Brittany Murphy (Sin City, Across The Hall) makes her last screen appearance playing Mary Walsh a woman who drops her boyfriend Kevin (Dean Cain, “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”, Upcoming - Georgia) off at a hospital for routine outpatient surgery. Mary returns to take him home and he is nowhere to be found. The hospital administrator (Mimi Rogers, Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery) can’t find any record of him, police search of the building turns up nothing. Frantic at her inability to locate her missing boyfriend, Mary is taken to a staff psychiatrist, Dr. Bensley (Peter Bogdanovich, 54, The Sopranos) who pronounces her as unstable. Now she has to find her boyfriend to prove her sanity.
Brittany Murphy gives a fine performance in an otherwise been-there-done-that film. In fact the cast is quite good, raising the bar on this film if it had a lesser cast. Murphy stands out however, despite it being her last screen appearance she is both ghastly (was it the film’s intention or her health?) and desperate which suit’s the role perfectly. While not Heath Ledger/Joker quality her work here is fine for a final performance, better actors have left far worse performances before their deaths. Dean Cain plays her boyfriend in one of his best and most mysterious film roles to date. Mimi Rogers is quite good as the hospital administrator. All the actors do a fine job of keeping you guessing as to where this film is going to lead.
The story however goes from a fine mystery down a very familiar path that would be spoiling if I reveal the path it takes. Not to say that it is bad, it’s average to good, but once it gets to a certain point in the film, you know where it is heading. The story doesn’t twist and turn like it wants to from that point on. The highlights of the story by Peter Sullivan is Brittany Murphy’s character who is such a mystery that at one point she is second-guessing herself and what really took place. The story would have benefited greatly from going down a road less traveled and figuring it’s own way from there. It’s hard to be original in cinema today, everything seems to have been done and re-done plenty of times over, but the best films these days strive for their own originality and this should have kept on that path of discovering new ground or telling the story in a different way after a crucial part of the film.
A creepy quality to this film is added by the real-life death of lead actress Brittany Murphy. I believe her looks weren’t 100% intended. At varying points in the film she looks like she is dying of something. Her face in particular and her weight seems to be fairly low to the point of unhealthy. It’s haunting to watch her in this film because of her recent death. While I found the makeup department did a nice job I don’t think Murphy was intended to look as ghastly as she sometimes does here. Researching her death I saw she was severely anemic (losing blood) and that explains the paleness and ghastly appearance. She must have been suffering during the making of this film. She also had pneumonia, having dealt with both those myself I can only give Murphy respect and credit for finishing the movie as weak and sick as she must have felt.
Overall, Abandoned isn’t the best movie of her career, but she could have done much worse for a last film. I preferred Across The Hall over this, but this is a decent sendoff considering she wasn’t in Heath Ledger’s league as an actor. Definitely worth a rental just to see her last role, but it would have been worthy of a rental had she lived as it is a decent movie. I recommend renting before buying because some won’t like this as it retreads a lot of similar movies from the past. I wouldn’t try to dissuade any of you from buying this, but would strongly recommend a rental to see if you like it first. I liked it enough to keep this movie for my collection.
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