Dragonfly asks us: When someone you love dies... are they gone forever? It also answers by saying: Apparently not -- they haunt you until you go crazy, pummeling you with insects and kooky drawings. My kind of love, baby.
The love in Dragonfly is the wife of poor Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner), an emergency medicine doctor in Chicago. She's also a doctor -- a pediatric oncologist named Emily -- and for some reason, she decides to head for Venezuela to do a little Peace Corps-style work, presumably to exorcise her upper class guilt.
Before the opening credits even roll, Emily is dead, drowned after a mud-and-rockslide on her mission of mercy. And our hero Joe is left in a big, spooky Victorian to grieve with a silent, mangy parrot.
Almost immediately, Joe starts seeing and hearing things -- Emily's favorite dragonflies appear outside -- or are they just delusions? -- and the kids at the hospital keep saying that Emily has a message for her husband: She wants to meet Joe "in the rainbow." Emily has told them this herself, they relay, as they meet when the kids are in comas or cardiac arrest.
Joe is faced with trying to figure out the meaning of all this rainbow talk and a weird squiggly cross they keep drawing, a mission which takes him on a journey of unimaginable tedium as he reads books, consults nuns, and eventually flies to Venezuela to get to the bottom of things when he starts to suspect she isn't really dead.
If this adventure wasn't so flaccid it might have made for better cinema, but Joe's journey is so overwhelmingly dull that you can't help but feel bored by his travails. The freaky What Lies Beneath stuff takes nearly an hour to arrive. Until then, Joe spends the film mostly moping. And even once the movie does get going, the abortive plot lurches in a number of directions before finally taking us on Joe's ridiculous road trip -- not to mention an ending so overtly manipulative you can't help but hate it.
Dragonfly not only wants your mind to wrestle with the truth about the squiggly cross, it wants you to consider the philosophical issues about life after death. I got bored with the first question in short order, and the second question -- a subject explored with considerably more aplomb (and some genuine scares) in The Sixth Sense -- is barely given a cursory glance. I didn't think about the afterlife at all during Dragonfly. Instead, I was left to wonder: Why did Kevin Costner agree to star in a movie like this? And how much did he get paid?
Ah, the mysteries of the universe.
The DVD release addresses few of those mysteries , including 10 minutes of super-grainy deleted scenes, a staid commentary by director Tom Shadyac, and a testimonial by author Betty Eadie describing her own near-death experience.
What's the buzz? It ain't dragonflies... it stinks!