"Identity" is supposed to be a psychological thriller with a shocking twist, so I'll try to not give much away in this review. But I don't know why I should bother since the film is carpeted wall-to-wall with such blatant clues that even before the opening title sequence draws to a close, it's put all its cards on the table.
In that sequence, a legal-defense shrink pours over a montage of newspaper clippings and police files about a schizophrenic serial killer who may have witnessed his parents' murder as a child. The killer is scheduled for execution the next day, and the doc (Alfred Molina) is working on an 11th-hour appeal.
Director James Mangold ("Kate & Leopold, " "Girl Interrupted") cuts back to this story from time to time as a midnight sanity hearing is held for the heavily drugged convict. But for reasons I won't divulge here, 95 percent of the picture takes place at a remote Nevada strip motel where 10 strangers (including a washed-up actress, bickering newlyweds and a family that had been in a bad car accident) have been stranded by a flash-flood rainstorm -- and one by one they're turning up gruesomely slain.
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Another bland, prefabricated feel-good vehicle for another chirpy Disney-cultivated pop-singer teen queen, "Raise Your Voice" thinks it's a brave movie full of life lessons for young people because the main character's older brother is killed by a drunk driver in the first act.
The tragedy comes back to haunt supposedly talented 16-year-old Terri (Hilary Duff in terrible platinum tresses) from depicted-as-dead-end Flagstaff, Ariz., as she spends part of the next summer at a prestigious music academy in Los Angeles -- which she does secretly and very much against the wishes her tetchy father (David Keith). But given this opportunity for genuine depth, screenwriter Sam Schreiber and director Sean McNamara blow it by recycling the most banal story elements in the misunderstood-teen lexicon. For example, who do you suppose has an on-cue change of heart after seeing Terri perform in the Big Finale?
Straining desperately to seem at once hip (for the kids) and harmless (for their parents), "Raise Your Voice" is best personified by Duff's love interest -- a clean-cut, non-threatening faux-punk aspiring musician (Oliver James from the equally vanilla teenybopper flick "What a Girl Wants"). More than once the pair (and others) badly lip-sync and air-guitar their way through overproduced and studio-polished bubblegum-rock songs, staged as if they occurred spontaneously.
Continue reading: Raise Your Voice Review
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