Defiant Screen Entertainment, Rated M
2.5 stars (out of 5)
Drawn from George Harrar’s book of almost the same name, this ponderous, pseudo-intellectual psychodrama has a pretty good lead performance by Guy Pearce as a character it’s impossible to like, but the slow pace, irritatingly affected musings upon ‘The Truth’ and frustrating final act make it a bit of a snoozer. Evidently a tricky production (the location shifted and original stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Emma Roberts and Greg Kinnear suddenly, and tellingly, became unavailable), it’s all, in the end, somewhat blah.
A rather self-impressed professor named Evan Birch (Guy) thinks that his wife Ellen (Minnie Driver) loves him and his life is pretty much perfect, but then Joyce (Odeya Rush), one of his sexiest students, goes missing in this smallish Californian town and a pushy detective (Pierce Brosnan as Malloy) comes calling. Malloy insists that Evan was having an affair with Joyce and the academic Guy, sorry, guy tries to pretend otherwise, and yet we become increasingly aware that he was doing just that and, perhaps, he was up to all sorts of tricks in his shady past too, and somehow Ellen has forgiven him. Or denied it.
Pierce’s Malloy is a serious stock-type character and he keeps needling Evan, hoping to shatter his cool veneer, while Ellen starts to question whether she knows her husband at all, and that maybe he’s a liar and a killer (and, therefore, she’s kind of an idiot). And American-débuting director Simon Kaijser can’t do much with Brosnan or Driver or indeed Matthew Aldrich’s adapted script, but Guy comes through and manages to somehow seem charismatic, pretentious and icky, often all the same time. But the film lets him down again and again.
Hopelessly average, this one’s so familiar and uninspired that, even if you haven’t seen it before, you’ll swear you have.