Starring: James McAvoy, Vincent Cassel, Rosario Dawson, Danny Sapani, Matt Cross, Wahab Sheikh, Mark Poltimore, Tuppence Middleton
Directed by: Danny Boyle Written by: Joe Ahearne and John Hodge Cinematography by: Anthony Dod Mantle Original Music by: Rick Smith
Premise: A London auctioneer acting as the inside man for a major art theft goes ‘off script’ and takes a blow to the head, which gives him amnesia as to where he hid the painting he stole when he double crossed the theft team. When tearing his apartment and car apart avails them nothing, they turn to torture. This only ends up proving that he really doesn’t remember what he did with it. Desperate, the thieves realize their only hope of getting Simon’s memory back might be through the use of a hypnotist. Things start getting very weird after that. (Rated R)
1) Acting – Total Thumbs Up: James McAvoy gave a great performance as Simon. The personality shifts during the dreams and visualized hypnosis sessions were amazing. He’s almost unrecognizable by the end of the film as the man we began the voyage with. Vincent Cassel also did a great job. He too went through some transformations of his own as matters played out. Rosario Dawson was fantastic. She sneaked in many of the little cues the audience would need here and there flawlessly.
2) Special Effects – Total Thumbs Up: There aren’t a lot of major ones in this film, but the few there were are done expertly. The finger torture and another bit closer to the end will make you cringe. (Guys will feel a lot of empathy for the second one.) The body during one of the scenes was as gross as anything you’d find in “Bones” – and that’s hard to do.
3) Plot/Story – Total Thumbs Up: I can’t say too much, as I don’t want to give the plot away and ruin it for you. Just be vigilant, lots of little clues are doled out throughout the film. Like the characters, you’ll start doubting what is real and what is not. Even the time of the “reveal” is not the real story. If anything, the audience is left to sift the full truth out on their own – to pick the version of reality they can live with. But if you’ve paid attention, you should be able to tell. As the saying goes – the lamb is but a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
The truth is parcelled here and there, but it’s really hard to know which bits are it.
I totally loved the whole intro sequence with Simon speaking about the auction trade and paintings. Really sets up the scenario as things suddenly go a different way. If anything seems off at any time, it’s a clue! So keep them in mind – trust me.
4) Locations/Cinematography – Total Thumbs Up: A lot of symbolism is used in the film and some of it bleeds over into the locations chosen for certain scenes. Some great shots of different locals in England give it a lot of flavor.
5) Costuming/Makeup – Total Thumbs Up: Major kudos for the makeup job on Simon after he’s hit his head and he’s outside. The swelling on his forehead looked amazing and totally agonizing. From the drilling we saw them do in the hospital, it was pretty bad.
Conclusion: Major mind bender of a film. Reality is but a veil. Great performances on a fun thriller. I’d suggest going see it with several friends and see who comes out with what for what was really going on. Should be fun!
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby’s Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)