When three blue collar acquaintances come across millions of dollars in lost cash they make a plan to keep their find from the authorities but find complications and mistrust weaving its way into their plan.
Billy Bob Thornton,
When Jessica King goes missing, all eyes turn to Annabelle Wilson. Not as a murder suspect, but as a clairvoyant. Many of the towns folk go to Annabelle for help, and Jessica's fiancée, Wayne Collins, turns to Annabelle for possible guidance. Annabelle feels that she can't help, but this doesn't stop her from constantly getting visions of Jessica's fate.Written by
Sam Raimi is an interesting dude. A few things I appreciate here.
I like that it isn't the type of story that simply piles on deceit; we have an emotional center from which to see. The story is about a woman, widowed mother of three, who hasn't come to terms with the loss of her husband. Maybe deep inside she feels she should have done more to keep him from going to work that day, that she squandered her gift of vision.
She's a fortune teller, a caring soul genuinely trying to help neighbors with their emotional turmoil, but we get the sense that she has allowed hers (and her kids') to go unaddressed. When her eldest (who has school trouble and is distant owing to the loss) takes the bold step of coming to her room to ask about their father, she sends him back to bed; so completely unlike her, denying both him and her the same comfort of clarity that she freely offers to others. This moment is pivotal to what this is. There's anger bubbling inside that clouds her intuition about emotional turmoil in her own home.
The horror film proper is about this anger unfurling outside. There is an abusive redneck who victimizes his girlfriend. Another woman who goes around her fiancee's back, betraying love, is found murdered. Flashes of premonition abound.
More could have been done to draw out connections. Although the premise is powerful, a bit too much of the film is spent in turning a plot. But that's my own preference for a cinema that wanders visually through context. It doesn't stop me from appreciating that, horrible murder, garish visions and the like, they all point back to a human being trying to cope with suffering, unsure about what's coming.
It would be nothing without Cate Blanchette of course. She soars, here near the start of her career. It might be simply that I've gone without the company of a great actor for some time; it felt like one of the most resonant works I've seen in a long time. The way she hesitates before easing in, her fragile poise guarded with grace.
The tendency is to celebrate actors within confines of an 'acting craft' that echoes its origins in theater. The type of roles that Oscars and sundry awards are given to tends to solidify this view. How revealing that Gena Rowlands was only Oscar acknowledged once and for a 'mentally ill' role. It keeps us from seeing them as makers in their own right, giving rise to a whole landscape of urge. Were we to be in Cate's presence, we would be in the presence of a master.
One last thing that brings me back to Raimi. We think of classic Hollywood as something that forever went away with its generation of stars. But it survives as a way of positing. Jaws is a Capra town being whimsically toyed with by an unseen beast. This one here, in the way we are eased into a world, in the placement of the camera, in the narrative light, is very much in the language of classic Hollywood.
Sam Raimi is an interesting dude. Come to think of it, I lament that he didn't create his own world to explore the way Lynch has, or his buddies the Coens.
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