At Oxford University, a professor and a grad student work together to try to stop a potential series of murders seemingly linked by mathematical symbols.At Oxford University, a professor and a grad student work together to try to stop a potential series of murders seemingly linked by mathematical symbols.At Oxford University, a professor and a grad student work together to try to stop a potential series of murders seemingly linked by mathematical symbols.
The problem appears to be that they turned the screen writing job over to hacks.
I know that's a brutal thing to say, but it really does appear to be the case.
The film tries to wed serial murder and academic philosophical musing, but fails. Actually, it tries to bring quite the plethora of de rigueur elements together, and mismanages the whole affair. You have all kinds of messy stuff, and an absence of any really compelling myth to bind it together, or even to effectively humanize the characters. You have John Hurt striving valiantly to imbue each scene he works with warmth and sensitivity, but he fails against the tide of bad overall conception/development. Suddenly, Wood is dallying with his hostess' daughter. Where did that come from? Then, she's mad at him for arriving home late. Was she expecting him? Later, she apologizes, and they seem to have arrived at some kind of cozy platonic status quo. Why? And she plays the cello. Uh, are we supposed to assume that an interest in contemporary orchestral ensemble work functions as a hedge against emotional irrelevancy? This was all fast, senseless, and just one example of many, many instances where presumably emotionally resonant moments float in a mutually disconnected vacuum.
And speaking of resonant moments, it's possible that some directorial stringency might have redeemed the script somewhat, though I'm not sure. It appears to be a case where the director accepted the script as-is, directed individual scenes as best as possible, then handed the footage over to editing; maybe they could make sense where he couldn't. There really seemed to be only the faintest glimmer of an understanding of any kind of move toward a redemptive overall storyline. I guess I'm saying that the narrative buck needed to have stopped with the narrators, but instead got passed, ineffectually, along the line in the process, until we see the buck being passed right out our screens and into our laps: The narrators didn't know what they were after--or didn't have the craft to pull it off--could the director handle it? The director couldn't handle it; could the editors make up for the oversight? The editors tried as best they could; if they can't make gold out of shite footage, could the viewer kindly oblige and dig something meaningful out of this morass of disconnected emoting interlaced with disconnected pedantry? By now, I think you get the idea. Seriously: If you're an aspiring screenwriter, WATCH THIS MOVIE. I daresay it's a textbook case.
I'm just having one more thought. It is *just possible* that the script is OK, but we're actually witnessing a combination of bad direction and editing mangling it. I would guess it's unlikely, but it *is* possible.
- Apr 9, 2009