Sunday, May 17, 2009

REVIEW: Passengers...

Sometimes, a person just has brilliance in their blood.

That may be the case for Rodrigo Garcia. The son of the famous writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez, the Columbia native has directd episodes of Big Love, Carnivale, and the brilliant Six Feet Under, as well as the critically acclaimed indie films, Ten Tiny Love Stories, and the phenominal Nine Lives. However, with Passengers, Garcia may have to stick with TV and films with numbers in the titles.

Making what can basically account for it's debut on DVD this past week (it was released in New York and LA for about one to two weeks, but is currently available on DVD or at Celebration Woodland), Passengers follows psychotherapist Claire Summers (Anne Hathaway), who is called upon to talk to and treat a group of five plane crash survivors. One of them happens to be a striking and charismatic man, Eric (Patrick Wilson), who not only exhibits signs that point to him hiding his true feelings, but begins to grow closer to Claire. As her patients begin to disappear, she begins to investigate what may be a cover up by the airline. Add in an estrainged sister subplot and you have the mix for an interesting plot, right? Yes, as well as a convoluted one.

I am a major supporter of Garcia, and I want you all to know that htis man is a true genius, particularly with his film, Nine Lives. It looks at the stories of nine women, and each vigniette is simply one complete take, and is one of the most emotionally stimulating films I've had the chance to see in a long time.

However, this film doesn't completely work.

The main problem with this film comes in its story. While somewhat compelling, it also seems a bit convuluted, and not well fleshed out. The film seems to be primarily built around what tries to be a surprise twist ending, but instead of coming off as a shocker, like any good twist should, it comes off as a complete bore. Instead of surprising the audience, it simply comes off as a kind of "so-what" moment. Also, while the ending gives a little meaning to a few of the characters, the performances in these roles are not great.

That said, they aren't all bad. Actually, the two leads are almost perfect. Anne Hathaway plays a psychotherapist who puts far to much of her life into her work, and when she meets the attractive Eric, she begins to change her tune. However, the film gives its viewers little to no reason to get emotionally involved with her. Sure, she has an estranged sister, but that fact isn't given nearly the amount of screen time that it should, and when that emotional climax hits in the end, it doesn't truly resonate with the audience. Wilson is also quite good here, and is the right touch of charismatic as well as vulnerable. Their chemistry single handedly saved the storyline.

However, what saved the film as a whole for me was the look of it.

While the direction as a whole isn't to particularly special, at least when compared to Garcia's previous films, Love Stories and Nine Lives. There aren't many visual flares, or his staple long continuous takes, which while allowing for the story to shine, also makes each moment more poignant. Along with Igor Jadue-Lillo's stunning cinematography, this is one film that will feed any cinephiles hunger for arresting visuals, in all of its constrast heavy glory.

So, if you are in the mood for a schlocky and convoluted plot, a side of stunning visuals and two great lead performances, grab a seat, and a copy of Passengers on DVD.


Go see something good!

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