In 1873 on Smutty Nose Island, a bleak island off the coast of New England, Louis Wagner is tried and hanged for the murder of two women. At the trial, the survivor of the murders, Norwegian immigrant Maren Hontvedt, recounts the events that led up to the murder of her sister and sister-in-law. In so doing, she reveals how she was caught in a loveless marriage and her repressed passion for her brother. Meanwhile, in the present-day, newspaper photographer Jean travels to the island off the New Hampshire coast with her husband Thomas, an award-winning poet, his brother Rich, and Rich's girlfriend Adaline. She is researching the murders of the two immigrant women. In a twist of fate, she discovers archived papers that appear to give an account of the murders. According to the papers, Norwegian immigrant Maren Hontvedt, survived the attack, which was allegedly done by Louis Wagner, who had once tried to seduce her. The plot unfolds the narrative of the papers and Hontvedt's testimony ...Written by
Based on an actual double-murder on the Isles of Shoals on 6 March 1873. See more »
When John Hontvedt, the Norwegian husband, turns the tea mug over at the site of the murders, there is a modern factory silkscreen stamp on the bottom of the mug. See more »
I have discovered in my life that it is not always the nature of god nor why he may bring in one night pleasure & death & rage & tenderness all intermingled so that one can barely distinguish one from the other... and it is all that one can do to hang onto sanity.
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I like Kathryn Bigelow as a director and she can direct any type of film no matter how technically challenging but their was something really lacking in this film. I'm not sure what it is but my guess is its imagination. Their is nothing special about this story. The film is about two stories. One a true story about two women that were murdered at the Isles of Shoal in New Hampshire in 1873. The other takes place in contemporary times and its about a writer named Thomas Janes (Sean Penn) and his photographer wife Jean (Catherine McCormack) who are going to spend time on a chartered yacht with his brother Rich (Josh Lucas) and his sexy girlfriend Adaline (Elizabeth Hurley). While on the yacht they visit the the actual murder area and Jean starts to read actual letters and transcripts about the case and thinks that the man Wagner (Ciaran Hinds) who was hanged for the murder is actually innocent. The film goes back and forth telling both stories and the first has a woman named Maren (Sarah Polley) who is married but doesn't love her husband. One day her brother comes to visit with his new wife and this makes Maren upset. She is in love with her own brother and they share an incestuous past! The second story has Thomas jealous of his brother and jealous of his wife but still can't help but to stare and flirt with Adaline. The editing in the film tries to intercut both stories but the rhythm and flow seem uneven. The film tries very hard to make us think that both of these stories have a connection between them. But except for the obvious that its about trying to make amends for the past, their really is no hardcore evidence that they are connected. The film looks good, both of them! Bigelow knows how her films should look and she should be commended. Both stories have a very different look and feel and obviously a lot of time was spent on each story. The performances are pretty good especially Polley as Maren. She gives the type of performance that should send out a signal to all studios that she's a solid actress and should be considered for larger roles. Penn also is good as the writer with problems from his past and McCormack is exceptional. She really carries the film and her jealousy and boredom are very evident and understandable for her character. Some have said that Hurley is nothing more than eye candy for the film but I disagree. The film needed an actress that could make us believe that Penn's character would be tempted to stray from his wife and Hurley is so exceptionally beautiful. As she lies in her skimpy bikini or parades topless its hard to not believe that any male wouldn't flirt, even a little bit! But the film lacks any real passion or imagination. The storm at the end of the film seems so forced like its there as just an excuse to set up certain events. It just didn't ring true. When the filmmakers decided they were going to go ahead with this picture, what did they think the point of the film was? It seems both murky and a little contrived. Some real talented individuals were involved in this film but the core of the story seems very hollow.
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