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Tried and True becomes Flat and Farcical
For all intents and purposes, this should have been a good movie. There is an abundance of talent involved here - Halle Berry right from her Oscar winning role in Monster, Robert Downey Jr. back from rehab and finally doing what he does best and Mathieu Kassovitz who directed the fantastic, "La Haine". So why does this film fail to hit almost every mark that it goes for? In my opinion the fault lies squarely with the screenwriter. He presents us with a film that we have seen before (not that that is always a bad thing) but fails to do anything new with it. The film cannot decide what it wants to be. Is it a psychological thriller? Is it a mystery? Once again, this is not to say that the two types of film cannot mix, they can and have done before with great success. However, the problem here is that the movie changes from one genre to the other. As soon as the mystery becomes the primary goal then the psychological plotline falls away. This would have worked if the mystery in the film was stronger than the psychological elements, but unfortunately, the mystery felt dull and predictable making the last half hour of the film almost painful to watch.
There are some good things here, though. There is some beautiful cinematography, and fancy camera tricks (if that's your thing). However, the cinematography is at it's most compelling when it is not trying to manipulate the audience's emotions. Those were the times when I felt as though I was actually watching a film. There are also some good performances - such as Bernard Hill as a tortured father, as well as Downey Jr (one of the few actors left who knows the meaning of 'understated').
I watched this movie with the intent of being entertained, but at the end of the day, that did not even happen. Technically, there should be nothing wrong with this film - it follows a perfect three act structure and there is a good arc in terms of the character development. The problem stems from the fact that it is obviously derivative and, as such, cannot escape from its influences and it just ends up contrived. If you are a big fan of Halle Berry then you may enjoy this. I am someone who enjoys horror/thriller and especially psychological thrillers but, for me this film fails on all counts. I found myself laughing when I should have been engaged and spent the last hour waiting for the movie to end.