I feel sorry for Till Human Voices Wake Us, the new supernatural romance starring Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter. Not because it's a good movie that won't get the respect it deserves - it is, in fact, a quite slow and heavy-handed film - but because it has the bad luck to open only one week before David Cronenberg's masterpiece Spider, a far better film that shares many of the same themes and devices. If timing is everything, Till Human Voices Wake Us has very little going for it.
Michael Petroni, the film's writer/first-time director, wrote the screenplay for Till Human Voices Wake Us while still attending LA's American Film Institute and, according to my press notes, won a couple of awards for this story, which concerns an Australian psychologist forced to confront his past demons after meeting a mysterious young woman while at his family's summer house to bury his father. Like Cronenberg's infinitely superior examination of the mind's destructive capacity for denial, the film exists on two planes: the present, which finds Dr. Sam Frank (Pearce) trying to figure out who Ruby (Carter) is and why she's in the small Aussie town of Genoa; and the past, in which we learn about Sam's childhood summer romance with a young beauty named Sylvia.
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