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In 1975, at age 18, Phoebe is unhappy. When she was about 10, her father died of leukemia; her older sister Faith became a political radical, left for Europe with her boyfriend Wolf, and commits suicide in Portugal a year later. Phoebe, who has romantic ideas about both her father and Faith, decides to trace Faith's steps, find Wolf, and learn what really happened. She finds Wolf in Paris, and he tells her stories of Faith's radical activities, including joining the Red Army in Berlin. Phoebe has visions of her sister, seems close to madness, and may be headed for suicide herself. It's the trip to the cliffs of Portugal that will make the difference: breakthrough or breakdown? Written by
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Has some value but is generally unconvincing and lacks good writing
In the early 1960's, two sisters are growing up. Faith is the elder of the two and is the apple of her father's eye listening to all his talk of art and freedom, while younger Phoebe is given less attention. When their father dies, Faith takes it the hardest near comatose at first but then getting into any revolution or cause that the period allows her to support. Heading off to Europe with her boyfriend, it is only a few months before her death brings even more pain to the family. Older now, Phoebe decides to use her sister's daily postcards as a guide and follow her footsteps around Europe to try and work out what happened to her.
With a quite famous cast, I decided to give this film a look but found that despite the professional sheen on it, this isn't that good a film. The plot is too unlikely, unconvincing and delivered in a phased manner that doesn't really work. Phoebe's journey is pretty unnecessary and her reasons for it didn't make a great deal of sense; it relied too much on some form of mysticism that it never earned (or kept consistent). The truth behind Faith's death unfolds but it does it in a lazy way Wolf just keeps revealing a bit more every here and there, why he suddenly feels he has to tell things that he had secret two minutes ago is not clear but the film uses it to keep things moving. Meanwhile, in flashback, Faith's story is unconvincing she is naïve, stupid and her political journey comes across as nothing more than the rebellion of any teenager.
It didn't help to have Diaz playing the role because she can't go beyond the character's surface and just ends up with a very basic performance that never got close to the sort of emotional turmoil that would have been needed to make a convincing Faith. Brewster is much better although it would have been a nice touch to cast two actresses that look like they could have at least come from the same family. Brewster has plenty of clunky lines to deliver but does reasonably well and she is allowed to nail Faith's character bang on the money at the end. She also has a good chemistry with Eccleston, which helps to cover up for the fact that the romance between them is a bad idea that didn't work that well. He is interesting enough though and shows he is a good actor by making more of the material than was on the page. The direction makes the most of nice European locations but it totally fails to capture a sense of time apart from some haircuts and costumes there is very little to tell you when the film is happening and, even if you know, it never feels like the period it wants to be of.
Overall it feels interesting enough and has emotional moments and nice touches in it but generally it doesn't work because the writing is poor and cannot make the story work; like another reviewer has said, it comes across rather contrived. The performances from Brewster and Eccleston are both better than the material but Diaz is too weak considering the weight she is asked to carry.
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