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Definitely flawed but still pretty interesting movie
A lot of people would not like this film, and I did find it flawed, but not for the same reason a lot of other people probably do. A scalene is triangle with three unequal sides. And this is three stories that are "unequal", not only in that they contradict each other somewhat in the famous "Rashomon" style, but they're also unequal in length. The mother's story runs about half an hour, the brain-damaged son's story is very brief, and story of the young sociology student who claims to have been raped takes up most of the movie. If one side of a scalene triangle exceeds the length of the other two combined, you obviously can't "close" the triangle. I'd have to go back and look at the running times of the three stories, but regardless the director chooses not to "close the triangle". The ending is ambiguous and leaves a lot of things unresolved and a lot of key questions unanswered.
Of course, this infuriates a lot of people who want a tidy resolution and clear answers. And they get upset with the director and start throwing around the word "pretentious", as if it's a worse crime to try unsuccessfully to do something new than to just do the same old thing. The style here is a little pretentious. The first story is told backwards, "Memento" style, which is a little too much, and the end also is a little bit pseudo-profound (a term I like better than pretentious). But ambiguity and moral ambiguity, the existence of multiple and differing points of view, no one really knowing everything, and a lot of things being left unresolved is actually very REALISTIC, much more so than the clear and tidy resolution of most movies. It's ironic that people today love "reality" shows where a clear narrative with often totally manufactured conflict and a tidy resolution or "closure" is imposed on reality. You can make reality fictional, but if you give a fictional movie like this too many aspects of reality, people get upset.
Anyway, the narrative structure of the movie I found interesting and even the ending didn't bother me. The first story is good (despite aping "Memento") and the disjointed second story genuinely seems to be "told by idiot" in its complete narrative confusion. The problem I had was the third story is simply not believable. The character of "Paige" is good, a naive young person trying to do the right thing and making bad decisions. But I didn't think ANYBODY would make some of the foolish and downright perplexing decisions she does. The performances of the actors playing the mother (Margo Martindale) and son are spot on, but the performance of Hanna Hall, who plays "Paige", is very uneven, great at times and quite awkward at others. I think a lot of it though is character and the direction, not the actress. Hall was great some years ago in "The Virgin Suicides" and she has had a more interesting career than most actresses. taking on a lot of offbeat roles and actually doing nudity even though she is not your typical Hollywood-style "hot", but looks much more like a normal girl (most Hollywood actresses who are "hot" seem to just coast on it and can be very boring as actresses). But I don't think any young actress could have been entirely successful in this infuriating role of a character who is much more realistic than usual, but who often makes completely unbelievable decisions.
This is flawed movie for sure, but that does not mean it is any way a bad one.
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