Xavier Lombard is a world-weary private eye in London, in exile from his native Paris; his best friend is Nathalie, a high-class call girl. He gets a call from an old friend from the Paris ... See full summary »
A high-priced call girl, shocked by her mother's death, decides to get out of the business and have a baby. The steps that she takes to free herself from her pimp and find a father for the baby are the central story of this movie.
This is a rare Finnish attempt at a mid-Atlantic thriller with international finance. Mid-Atlantic even in the sense that the story concerns a freighter named, lest anyone miss the point, Pandora, which is carrying a load of unspecified toxic waste and as a result has been banned from every port. Harassed by environmental activists and virtually abandoned by the multinational corporation that owns her, she roams the seas between refuelling points like a modern-day Flying Dutchman, while the crew start to crack up and plan mutiny.
However, from this interesting premise the film soon deteriorates into a fairly standard and clumsy stalk-around-the-ship thriller with people dying and Beck's tough captain trying to hold the mutinous crew at bay and keep track of Cartlidge's captured activist who doesn't relish the idea of becoming a rape-toy for the feral seamen. The somewhat twitchy narrative (possible due to cuts ordered by the producer) may be one factor, but the ultimate problem lies with Küttner's EBU award-winning script that mixes genuine invention with B-movie cast-offs. The conflict and the script's most interesting thread, the question about the true nature of Pandora's cargo, resolve in the weak finale with bargain-basement mysticism and pyrotechnics. Meanwhile the sub-plot about an American journalist and her boss investigating the corporate machinations behind the affair dwindles embarrassingly into a resigned statement that "corporations rule the world" (now who could've thought of that?). The idea may have been to create a sense of overwhelming mystery and individual impotence in the face of unknown forces throwing the cursed ship and her crew around, but now it all comes across as a cynical cop-out to conclude the story's confused journey.
In the true mid-Atlantic fashion, the characterisation doesn't much remind you of the film's origins, apart from the few Finnish words uttered by Hirvikangas' seaman. The mainly British cast go through their paces without much loss or gain, though the principal actors probably try too much for their own good. Beck grimaces and sneers his way through his role so straight that it borders on comic, but I almost feel sorry for Firth, who with almost painful sincerity hams up his role as the first officer who has cracked under pressure and believes the cargo is some divine element that will usher in a new age on Earth. The Americans are portrayed with all the stereotypical superficiality that Hollywood generally grants to the rest of the human race.
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