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|Index||159 reviews in total|
Katie Holmes is well-cast as an intellectual college student in this intellectual thriller, a strange bird of a movie to sit alongside the current batch of "teen" horror films (did you know that in this one the students actually - gasp!- study?). Admittedly it moves at a measured pace (some would say "like molasses"), and doesn't really take off until the last 2 minutes or so (!), when it presents a final twist which I, for one, did not see coming, and which saves the entire picture. All through the film you get the feeling they have something to show you at the end, and indeed they do, but perhaps they shouldn't have waited so long to get there. Excellent score and cinematography. (**1/2)
I was a little hard on this film when I initially reviewed it upon its release. After watching it on DVD again I realized that there is a very clever and beautiful story to be told but problems in the script prevent it from truly taking off. The performances, cinematography, and music are all great but it just can't seem to find a solid direction.
A film's trailer is a gateway to success and sometimes failure. In the case of Abandon, it proved to be the latter. The film was marketed as a non-stop psychological thriller but to be honest the thrills are few and far between. Abandon is more a character study with the atmosphere of a thriller. The film's main priority is to tell a story and I think audiences were really disappointed when they saw a movie that was short on thrills. That could explain its not so great $10 million dollar box office gross.
Abandon is about a beautiful young girl named Katie Burke (Katie Holmes) who is nearing her graduation from a very prestigious school. She has a nice future ahead of her, including a potential job at a top New York firm. However, things begin to unravel when Katie's past comes back to haunt her. A police detective, by the name of Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt), is investigating the disappearance of Embry Langan (Charlie Hunnam), Katie's wealthy and sometimes eccentric ex-boyfriend. Embry has not been seen or heard from in 2 years, and the lawyers for his estate want to know whether he's alive or dead. When the detective begins to bring up several events from the past, Katie begins to see Embry around campus and other various locations. Has Embry come back for love or revenge?
Abandon has a lot of positives but a thriller it certainly is not. Abandon falters when it tries, at great lengths, to scare and surprise its audience. Stephen Gaghan, who won an Oscar for writing Traffic and is directing for the first time with this film, can't seem to properly direct scenes that are suppose to keep us on the edge of our seats. However, He does a good job of making us wonder if Embry is really back or if Katie is seeing things. Most of his encounters come about when she's half asleep or frustrated and the possibility of these two different outcomes are one of the scripts strengths. Another scene that resonates involves a truly alarming surprise for our main character when she's alone in the library. Other than that, all the thrills are by the book or non-existent.
Abandon's biggest strength is what isn't shown in the trailers. First and foremost this film works as a very deep character study. As a character, Katie is very interesting and her past experiences with men (including her father) who have left her plays an important part into the mysterious disappearance of Embry. The character is well developed and several scenes give us great insight into her inner struggles. We learn about her relationship with Embry through beautifully filmed flashbacks that are probably the best aspects of this picture. The flashbacks are backed by a very moody score and a sense of realism that make for really good scenes. We learn through these sequences that Embry and Katie were a very happy couple, with a possibly nice future ahead of them. When the film switches back to real-time we realize why his disappearance has hurt her so much. There is also an interesting tidbit about how she attracts men and doesn't even realize it. This part of the story establishes many key points in the plot that I simply can't reveal here. Needless to say Katie's development as a character is far more interesting than the thrills, or lack thereof, that are present in this film. More emphasis should've been placed on the characters and not on what might scare us.
I must give major kudos to Katie Holmes for conveying all the emotions necessary to establish Katie Burke as a very interesting character. Katie Holmes proves that she can carry a film all on her own. Holmes usually turns in adequate performances in supporting roles such as in Wonder Boys and The Gift. In this film everything is on her shoulders and she comes out of it on top. A crucial scene during her job interview for the law firm is not just a statement of power for the character, but for Katie Holmes as well. The scene shows us that Katie Holmes is ready to play a WOMAN and is prepared to leave the fickle role of Dawson's Creek's Joey Potter behind. She carries herself so well during this film it makes you wonder what she can really do in a movie that has a better focus. Another asset that Katie brings to the role is a nice mix of naivety and sex appeal. Katie Holmes has a look of pure innocence but she carries herself with a sex appeal beyond her years. This works for the character during several key scenes. After Dawson Creek comes to an end this year Katie will be one of the few to have a flourishing movie career once the Creek dries up. The cast members should get in touch with her agent.
> Benjamin Bratt is stuck in a thankless supporting role that isn't much of a challenge for the actor. This is essentially the same part he played on Law & Order and in Miss Congeniality. I heard that he displayed a great deal of range in the critically acclaimed Pinero so maybe he should focus more on leading roles instead of throwaway supporting roles. I will say that I did buy the relationship between he and Katie that developed during the film. Some critics found it unbelievable but for this story I felt that it worked on a certain level.
Charlie Hunnam has a very difficult task of making Embry an interesting character. Since Embry is only shown through flashbacks and his few "return" encounters with Katie it must've been really hard for him convey the emotions necessary to make Embry the eccentric character that everyone describes him as. Hunnam is quite adequate in his few scenes. He does a good job of making Embry into a very spoiled and eccentric personality but there is something about this that hurts his character development. Half the flashbacks show him as a pampas asshole. The entire time they were trying to figure out if Embry just left town or if he was dead I really could care less. When a character is mostly unlikable it's very hard to care about what dastardly deed was committed against them.
Supporting performances from Gabrielle Union, and particularly Zooey Deschanel are quite good. Deschanel provides the film with much needed comic relief. When the film begins to lag she brings it back up with a very sharp delivery of some funny lines.
I guess the most disappointing thing about this film is that Stephen Gaghan's directorial debut is flawed, mainly because of his very own direction. There is a more compelling story to be told here and I think if he would've explored it more this film could've been much better. His script lays down the foundation for some great ideas but his direction doesn't allow them to shine through. He did some great work with the complex Traffic screenplay, creating interesting characters and interesting circumstances for them to fall back on. This is what makes this muddled effort a minor letdown. While watching a making of feature on the DVD I learned that he had never even picked up a camera to record anything as he was growing up. Maybe some more experience could've helped him as he was making this picture.
Technically the film is almost a masterpiece. The cinematography paints a very moody and effective atmosphere for the film. The cinematographer also did work on Requiem for a Dream and some of the brilliant work he did on that film is evident here. The use of beautifully lit backgrounds and scenery paint a perfect portrait for the flashback scenes and his use of dark blues and muddy greens provide set the mood for the darker themes of the story. For instance, there is a scene where Katie first sees Embry's return in a room that consists of a strobe light. The scene is so well done that it's one of the scenes that generates any tension. It's a scene that proves that atmosphere is key. The music, which was composed by another Requiem for a Dream team member, is also great. The score supplies a unique voice for the main character and almost serves as a way to get into her mind. There is a scene where Katie ventures back to Embry's country house for the first time since his disappearance and the scores soft yet moody use of the piano during this scene is enough to convey the emotions that the character is feeling.
I also was a bit hard on the film's ending when I first reviewed it but upon second viewing I think it actually works. It is a bit cliché but the acting throughout this sequence makes it bearable.
I recommend Abandon only if you're willing to accept the film for what it is: a character study that is light on the thrills. If you're going in expecting something that's going to keep you glued to your seat in fear then you may be disappointed.
Caught this on cable last night and I liked it. I thought Katie Holmes did extremely well with a very tricky role, and I thought there were a lot of well written exchanges between the characters, excellent atmospheric touches, and enough psychological ambiguity to allow me to figure out what was really going on before the ending, but this didn't make the film predictable - it made it clever. And the title is a good one - extremely telling, a clue in itself. Of course, it's not a perfect film by any stretch; there's too much stuff that really doesn't need to be in the movie but I still give it a 6 (my IMDb equivalent of *** - a decent premise, decently executed).
I went with my younger sister for the sole purpose to see the lovely Katie Holmes. I didn't expect much. But trash, the movie was not. I was very impressed with the story, the acting, the Hitchcock-like suspense, and the turn that occurred at the end. My favorite part was the library scene with the eyes behind the bookshelf. A big stepping-stone for Katie Holmes, who I think will continue to get starring roles and turn into a Natalie Wood like star. She is both beautiful and a good actress. This film is definitely a renter, and should have been better accepted when it was released, critic-wise and box office-wise. *** out of ****. Watch it and enjoy.
Upwardly mobile Katie Holmes (as Katie Burke) tries to concentrate on
her college thesis while thinking about a career after graduation.
Understandably a little stressed, Ms. Holmes has occasional flashbacks
about beautiful blond ex-boyfriend Charlie Hunnam (as Embry Larkin). A
rich bohemian artist-type, the charismatic Mr. Hunnam disappeared two
years ago. Holmes has had no steady lover since then, although
tree-hugging Gabriel Mann (as Harrison "Harry" Hobart) shows interest.
Meanwhile, recovering alcoholic detective Benjamin Bratt (as Wade
Handler) is assigned to investigate Hunnam's mysterious disappearance
as Holmes is frightened by a stalker who looks just like him...
Multi award-winning writer turning director Stephen Gaghan gets good, steady cinematography from Matthew Libatique. However, the positioning of actors and set direction is sometimes obvious and distracting. Holmes has the messiest imaginable room but likes to straighten Bratt's pictures. Matches her psyche. Getting Holmes crotch-level with therapist Tony Goldwyn (as David Schaffer) matches the script. So, there is cohesion. However, you care more about what happened to poor "Harrison" than the lead characters, who come together for the predictable surprise ending. There is life-sustaining support from friendly Zooey Deschanel, mousy Melanie Lynskey and clean-cut Mark Feuerstein.
***** Abandon (3/1/02) Stephen Gaghan ~ Katie Holmes, Benjamin Bratt, Charlie Hunnam, Gabriel Mann
I wasn't sure what to think of this film during the first hour. I thought it was unfocused and a bit confusing at first. But sit through this one, once you get to the end, you will see there is a reason for the unfocused quality of the film. I will not say anymore about the story than that. Katie Holmes is fantastic in this film, I will watch her movie career with interest. Her acting is somewhat reminiscent of Ashley Judd, but not completely. It may seem to some people that this film is slowly paced, but stick with it. It's worth it. 8/10
Abandon is a very average movie. It's nothing that's going to blow the viewer away, but it's not a terrible movie either. Katie Holmes does a good job playing Katie Burke a student nearing the end of college, trying to get her thesis done and land a good job. The movie focuses on the investigation by Wade Handler (Bratt) into the disappearance of Katie's boyfriend two years earlier. Although the film had some good twists and wasn't really predictable, most of the characters other than Katie Burke came off as kind of flat and boring. Embry Larkin played by Charlie Hunnam as Katie's ex-boyfriend was made out to be a wonderful, highly talented genius, but he didn't seem anything special to me. I didn't think Wade Handler, the police officer investigating the disappearance, came across as an very interesting character either. Overall, I'd say that this is an all right movie, but I'd only watch it if nothing else better was available.
mostly i found this movie non-believable,pointless and confusing.i didn't find it really predictable,but most people probably will.the acting was OK,but not great.Zooey Deschanel was the only bright spot,in my opinion.Benjamin Bratt appeared in the movie and was adequate.Katie Holmes was supposed to be the star,i think.i found her sub par,as usual.i don't really like her that much,and have yet to see he in a good movie.or rather i have yet to see her put in a good performance in a movie.the ending was something most people will probably see coming a mile away.it's not something i predicted,but it wasn't surprising either.my vote for Abandon is a 4/10
"Abandon" plays out like a B-movie, but a very good one at that. It's
not as polished as most Hollywood fare; it's gritty and dark, and I
think this does the film a huge service (thought I was gonna say
'disservice' didn't you). 'Abandon' is at moments chilling and this is
thanks in large part to Holmes performance. Katie has always had
potential but it wasn't until just before she went cuckoo for Tom
Cruise that she actually began to tap into it. The rest of the cast
does a fine job as well. Benjamin Bratt does his best to stand out but
doesn't fare so well. His scenes are smothered with Katie's commanding
presence. Zooey Daschanel is funny and witty as Katie's friend Samantha
and the beautiful Gabriel Union delivers as Amanda (although I really
wish she had more screen time). The ending was great and left you in a
state where you knew that there had to be a sequel.
Stephen Gaghan's script is tightly woven and, while not exactly mind blowing and or original it manages to strike fresh blood; creeping us out as well as making us think. The only problem with "Abandon" is how it is a little slow at the beginning, and the scene when they are drunk or high at a party, I felt that that scene was a little too much. The film follows a very dark and ominous tone, everything done in dark color schemes, voice's low and images grainy, and that adds to the mystery bound to be unlocked. So, all in all, if you don't mind that the story develops very slowly, and that some things don't add up, then you might like this film!
Overall rating: 7 out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Warning, this review reveals the outcome. Please do not read it if you
have not seen this movie. This film is much better than the reviews
indicate but one has to deal with a subtle conclusion. We seem to have
trouble with ambiguity in film narratives. Further, the point-of-view
at the end of the film is like that of a modernist novel. I appreciate
criticisms of "Abandon" but I think it deserves to be what it is.
"Abandon" never lacks focus. If you follow closely, you read a coherent narrative. Katie Holmes' performance is the core of the narrative but fine production qualities, direction, and attention to details are also important. There are lapses, perhaps, though I will have to watch it again to know this. This is a quick review. The film deserves better.The clue is to hide as the victim even if you are not.
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