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Monday, 8 April 2013


What? That was my immediate reaction when this little mess of a film ended. It starts with such potential and yet disintegrates quickly in the second half. You keep waiting for things to come together and for the story to make sense, but by the end you are still waiting.

The film is about the robbery of a work of art - Goya's The Flying Witches -  and so, fittingly, there is something painterly about the construction of shots, about the use of colour, about the whole look of the film. It is immensely stylish, but fundamentally empty.

James McAvoy plays Simon, an employee of the auction house who gets involved with a group of criminals, headed by Vincent Cassel. The set up is intriguing, and gets even more interesting when Elizabeth, a hypnotist, comes on to the scene.

Then, about half way through, the story starts to unravel. The hypnotist - Rosario Dawson - who is treating James McAvoy's character to try and help him recover memories he has lost after suffering amnesia, becomes more of a central figure.  Somehow she has the power to induce these kinds of hallucinations, and the viewer has to spend much of the second half of the film working out whether what we are watching is real or imagined.

There are romantic entanglements, murders that may or may not be murders, betrayals and double-crosses, and twists that may be significant or may just be another red herring. The movie had potential, it should have been clearer, and less busy, and less obsessed with appearing terribly clever, but it isn't any of those things. It descends into a visually stunning but confused and badly told story of love, betrayal and hypnotically induced visions. In the end it is fundamentally silly.

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