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Colleen Murphy seems to have two great talents. One is to write scripts that even the most jaded filmgoer won't find predictable, and the other is to find actors perfect for the characters she creates.
This is a story about Francis, who does some very bad things (I'll try not to spoil), and it would have been so easy to write the obvious tale of the people around him slowly finding out the horrible truth, and end it by having the Good Guys shoot down the Bad Guy in triumph (and rescue the Damsel in Distress). Uh-huh. Yawn. Thankfully, that doesn't happen here. Every character is three-dimensional, a mixture of good qualities, bad qualities, weaknesses and strengths. You end up feeling very sorry for Francis despite what he's done. I'm sure that alone will make some moviegoers very uncomfortable, but I thought it was very well-done and thought-provoking. Zach Bennett plays Francis and gives a terrific performance in a very difficult role that goes the range from charming and suave to insecure and scared to psychotic and out of control. Katja Riemann (Halley) plays his schoolteacher girlfriend, who, refreshingly, does not require being run over with the clue bus to figure out her boyfriend's hiding something. (Can you ever tell a woman wrote this script). Other standouts include the actress who played Francis' elderly, controlling and too-close-for-comfort mother and the actor who was Halley's eccentric but well-meaning father. Alberta Watson makes the most of a small part as a coffee shop owner who's as charmed by Francis's outward persona as every other woman in the film, and familiar face Graham Greene shows up as a p.i. searching for a missing girl. Overall, a very cleverly written and complex film that I'd highly recommend.
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