Friday, January 04, 2008

Derailed (2005)

Derailed is a film that tries to be one of those film noirs of the late 40’s and 50’s. You know the movie where the protagonist is a SAP, and it’s the femme fatale that does him in. There are dozens of films that I could name that follow that formula, and Derailed is sort of a throw back to one of those films. Of course there is considerable updating in the film, and the filmmakers put a few twists and turns to keep the audience on their toes, and to put their own spin on this true and tried formula.

Derailed stars Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston. The film is directed by Mikael Håfström ,who brought you last year the film 1408 starring John Cusack. As I’ve said before this film tries to take the standard noir film and turn it on its ears. If you’re a fan of the genre you’ll see the plot points coming a mile a minute, but what director Mikael Håfström does in the beginning of the film is interesting. Håfström creates a reality that is dismal, and made up of monotony & desperation. When the thriller elements are introduced only then does the story kick into high gear. Another actor who should be mentioned is Vincent Cassel as LaRoche our French villain. Cassel sneers and taunts our Owens’s character so well you really want to see this guy get his, and I promise he does.

Some reviews have said that Ms. Anniston had been miscast in the role of Lucinda, but I think the filmmakers wanted that. The character that Anniston plays is quite dubious, and at first we think she isn’t. In fact we are lead to believe that she is the victim. She does this very well, and so I won’t fault the filmmakers for casting her. They (the filmmakers) were casting against type, and it works. I was expecting her as more of the victim. When it winds up that she isn’t I was a bit surprised. There is no macho hero stuff in Derailed that usually turns a thriller into an action adventure film. Clive Owen plays a regular guy whose life is turned upside down. It’s a performance that won’t win him awards, but it certainly conveys the quality of the actor he is, and after seeing him in Children of Men I can fully say that Owen is one of the best actors working in Hollywood today.

Derailed is a film that works, and it always surprises me to see a good film fall through the cracks. Sure it’s not a film with a astronomical budget, and flashy filmmaking gimmicks, but it works as a pure escapist thriller, and is worth a view.

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