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Not just plain bad--Sarandon is terrific, and there are moments of good intrigue
Ann Turner has been involved as writer or director in a series of pretty awful films, but this is easily her best. And it includes a stellar performance by Susan Sarandon, which all by itself should lift the dismal ratings the movie enjoys. And the plot is a sensational exploit, really, a common tale of one woman seeming to torture another psychologically, and you aren't sure whether the victim is really going mad or is simply disbelieved.
But this isn't just a harrowing play with the character's psychology, and the viewer's suspense. The acts of subterfuge are subtle and canny. The husband, convincing as always by the actor Sam Neill, adds to the conflict because he is both utterly reasonable, but also drawn to the other woman, the rather deceptively evil and seductive (to him) Emily Blunt. The clues are there, but no one except Sarandon's character, a loving mom and children's book illustrator, can see.
And the viewer. Sometimes. The movie works best when it plays with the head trip of the viewer, wondering if it's her or her. Or him. And it plays out with general subtlety.
What might kill it for some people is the ending twenty minutes, which is both resolution to motive and dramatic free-for-all. It pushes probability a little, but then, it makes it all possible, because the events needed some extreme motivation or they would seem spurious, uninspired.
But back to Sarandon. Her delicately shaded performance as both mom and someone possibly going insane is remarkable. Prizewinning. Because it was nested in a mediocre (or thin, at least) movie is a shame. Neill and Blunt are both wonderful in their own ways, though Blunt in a way needed to have some greater kind of edgy attitude to make it soar. She is too often self-conscious in front of the camera (making you seriously wonder if she was involved with any of the crew at the time). Or the crew, at least, was enamored with her. Too bad. It's Sarandon who shines.
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