Thomas Hayden Church (Emmy winner “Broken Trail”, Spider-Man 3) is Don McKay, a janitor who regrets making a mistake in his youth. After 25 years he hears from beautiful Sonny (Elisabeth Shue - Leaving Las Vegas, upcoming - Piranha 3-D) his ex-girlfriend and the woman he still loves. She is dying and wants to spend her remaining days with him. Returning to the site of the tragedy, Don rushes to be with her. She is still as beautiful and desirable as ever, but something about her is…different. Wondering if it is sickness that has changed her or something that makes the townspeople act odd, Don tried to solve the mystery while keeping his sanity and life intact.
Actors Thomas Hayden Church and Elisabeth Shue standout here with very nice performances. Church plays Don McKay as an awkwardly uncomfortable man. In every situation he is in he seems to be on edge or baffled by what is going on all around him. Given his mechanic role on the hit show “Wings” Church plays the role of a janitor to perfection. Elisabeth Shue plays the desirable woman as well as she ever has, looking as good as she ever did though tugs at your heart with her “dying” woman role though there is another side to her character that puts her situation into question. Shue and Church work particularly well together making me want to see the two pair up again sometime down the road. M. Emmett Walsh (Back To School, Fletch) plays Samuel a cab driver who interacts with Don and adds much-needed humor. Keith David (The Thing, Platoon) is Otis Kent an old friend of Don’s also adding humor and his typical underrated acting skills. Otis and Samuel are friends Don turns to for help when he gets in a particularly tight jam.
This is one of those movies that gets better with repeated viewings. You pretty much won’t get it the first time around because there is such an oddity about the characters and story that you are never on sure ground. The scenes between Shue and Church are standouts as both have great chemistry together, making each other’s performances better. Melissa Leo’s (Hide and Seek) role as the caretaker Marie, is perhaps the oddest of the movie. More so than even Sonny, Marie is really odd. Aloof and cold to Don at first she turns around and charms later on, changing looks at times that makes her almost unrecognizable.
The cinematography by Phil Parmet is very well-done. Dark when it calls for dark and light when the situations call for it, you never get camera tricks that are hard-to-follow or are blurry or flash-cutting MTV style. A great scene to sample is when Don and Otis are outside at night, the lighting is perfect for the mood, showing us the characters but keeping an edge that nighttime brings to scenes like this. Detail is fine throughout the film, all scenes in Sonny’s house shows perfect details and blurring when a character needs the focus. Some critics of Blu-ray films don’t get that sometimes imperfections in a film might be how the Cinematographer or Director intended it to be. For an independent film with a limited theatrical release, this is pretty good looking.
This movie was a bit of a hard review for me. I didn’t know what to make of it the first couple of times through. Third time was the charm after letting it sit for awhile before watching it again. I never had such a hard time figuring out how I feel about a movie before. With odd (there’s that word again!) films like this you can have a hard time telling how you feel. Something seems missing but I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is. Not to a point where I didn’t enjoy the film (again, the third time around) but it’s easy to overcome my hesitation once I realized I liked the film and not just the actor’s performances In a way I feel the film is mislabeled as a Thriller. Maybe it has it’s moments that “thrill” but I thought it was more of a comedy. Not an all-out comedy but I thought it had more laughs than thrills. Though to it’s credit this type of film is harder to categorize than most movies. The music is pretty nice though and helps make up for the slight short-coming. I actually like letting the menu play just for the song. It’s uplifting and enjoyable almost as much as “There’s Something About Mary’s” “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations.
This won’t win you over to the degree of a sleeper hit like Sling Blade, but it is a film worth seeing. If only for just the performances of stars Shue and Church as well as supporting actors Keith David and Emmett Walsh. Well worth a rental at least if not a buy on the cheaper-side. I’m glad I re-watched it for a third time because I feel better about it now than the first two times around. I can’t say that about most films I am puzzled about the first couple of times around. Overall, it’s a nice release from Image Entertainment and I enjoyed it. Recommended for those who are open-minded and enjoy character-driven Independent movies.
Special Features -
- Feature Commentary with Director Jake Goldberger and producer Jim Young
- Deleted Scenes
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