(dir. Joel Schumacher, Millennium Entertainment, 85 minutes)
The home invasion thriller Trespass
earned some press last year when star Nicolas Cage attempted to switch roles weeks before production, from victimized husband to masked thief. For whatever reason he moved back to his original part, but seeing the movie now it is clear what he had in mind; Trespass
is weirdly engaging when his character is pitted against a room full of armed criminals, but deflates when he is beaten down and weakened as time goes on.
Really, there are few actors better suited than Cage for this kind of movie, a stagey showdown with one set and a lot of angry people yelling at each other. His characters have a way of dominating the room, and maybe if the producers of Trespass
had thought about casting as deeply as their leading man did, they could have made finer use of him.
Nicole Kidman is lost as Cage’s ice queen wife, whose intelligence and loyalty fluctuates wildly between scenes until we can be quite sure, in the end, that she is completely deranged. Thankfully, trying to justify the motives of these ridiculous characters adds to the level of stupid fun. 2.5/5 Livid
(dir. Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, Alliance Films, 88 minutes)
Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo’s second collaboration Livid
is a very different creature than their cult hit Inside
. Somewhat less bloody but more disturbing and memorable, it replaces the slapstick gore of that debut with a gothic, fantastical sensibility. The result is less like a coherent horror film, more like a vivid hallucination.
Chloé Coulloud is young Lucie, a teenage girl in a new job assisting elderly shut-ins. One of her new patients has been comatose for years, yet somehow survives alone in a mansion on a grotesque respirator system. Lucie is goaded by two male friends into robbing the mansion, walking straight into a nightmare. There’s no other word to describe what transpires, which is almost too unreal to be frightening.
But kudos to Maury and Bustillo for trying something radical on their second outing. Though they cop stylistic elements from Americans Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton (with a much dirtier, darker outlook), their dreamlike second feature breaks clean from the more realistic terror of modern European horror. 3.5/5 The Loneliest Planet
(dir. Julia Loktev, Match Factory, 113 minutes)
Among other qualities, The Loneliest Planet
has the year’s best plot turn. Not a twist, exactly, but the story shifts gears midway through with a single, devastating gesture between Alex (Gael Garcia Bernal) and Nica (Hani Furstenberg) a couple planning to marry after their hike through the Caucasus mountains. An action which calls everything they know about each other into question.
Alex and Nica are led by Dato (Bidzina Gujabidze), an older guide with a troubled past of his own. Dato sees an opportunity to come between a vulnerable woman and a shaken man, but if and/or how he does is not to be revealed. In some ways the final choices of the characters are too elusive even to properly describe.
It’s difficult to talk about The Loneliest Planet
without revealing too much, suffice to say it will create a lot of conversation. Though its initial stretches border on and aimless, director Julia Loktev builds to a potent conclusion that respects and rewards the patience of her audience. 4/5