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DERAILED trade review

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  • DERAILED trade review

    Derailed By Michael Rechtshaffen for The Hollywood Reporter

    The Rachel-do has seen better hair days...as has Clive Owen.

    The ads for "Derailed", starring Clive Owen and Jennifer Aniston as a pair of doomed, illicit lovers, are accompanied by the tagline, "They Never Saw It Coming."

    That would have to make them about the only ones.

    Aiming for "Strangers on a Train" or "The Postman Always Rings Twice" but ending up looking a lot more like the lesser elements of "Unfaithful," this flaccid psychological thriller keeps spoiling its own surprise by constantly signaling the big plot twist.

    And because that means they won't have to keep on guessing, audiences will have a lot of time on their hands noticing how Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom's first English-language feature never really ratchets up the suspense or how the casting of Aniston and Owen fails to generate those crucial sparks.

    As a result, this debut release under the Weinstein Co. banner likely won't make the kind of splash it's looking for, though it could still conduct some moderate business with female-skewing thrill-seekers.

    Adapted by Stuart Beattie ("Collateral") from a novel by James Siegel, the story centers on Charles Schine (Owen), a Chicago advertising man who finds himself on the commuter train to work one day without cash to pay for his ticket.

    Springing for the nine bucks is alluring fellow passenger Lucinda Harris (Aniston), who, it turns out, works in the financial industry and, like Schine, is married with a child.

    But that doesn't prevent them from taking more than a shine to each other, meeting for lunches and early evening cocktails, leading to a would-be tryst in a seedy hotel room that is rudely and fatefully interrupted by the intrusion of a brutal trespasser (Vincent Cassel) who holds them up at gunpoint, beats up Schine and sexually assaults Aniston.

    A nasty game of blackmail escalates, leading to the intended big reveal, but truth be told, the plot jumped the tracks long before the train pulled into the station.

    In the hands of director Hafstrom, whose previous film, "Evil" was a foreign-language Oscar nominee, "Derailed" telegraphs its every turn while never making a credible case for the characters' unfaithful behavior.

    Part of the problem is in the casting of its two dependable leads who both bring very specific qualities to the table -- a fundamental decency with Aniston and a soulful melancholy with Owen -- and those attributes simply don't serve this type of story effectively. Their relationship never achieves that pulpy, darkly driven passionate intensity required to command an equally pounding punishment.

    Also lacking is a distinct visual style, an attribute that the otherwise soapy "Unfaithful" had in spades (not to mention that terrific Diane Lane performance), leaving "Derailed," which happens to have been shot by "Unfaithful" cinematographer Peter Biziou, to chug along drearily to a long-awaited destination.
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

  • #2
    Re: DERAILED trade review

    And Variety By JUSTIN CHANG

    Basically "Unfaithful"for men, "Derailed" is a nightmarish cautionary tale about a husband who strays from the marriage bed and ends up paying for it throughout the rest of the movie. Predicated on the novel but unrewarding spectacle of Clive Owen getting smacked around for nearly two hours, this murky psychological suspenser manages the tricky feat of being as predictable as it is finally preposterous. One can only hope it will be mostly uphill from here, artistically and commercially, for the fledgling Weinstein Co., whose first release this is.

    Pic reps a fascinating intersection of cultures both in front of and behind the camera: Directed by Swedish helmer Mikael Hafstrom, here making his Hollywood debut, the cast features two Euro thesps (Owen and Vincent Cassel), two hip-hop artists (RZA and Xzibit) and one all-American sweetheart (Jennifer Aniston). Result is a perplexing stew that, in its insoluble blend of tones, temperaments and hackneyed genre standards, at times plays like a high-toned exploitation picture.
    Charles Schine (Owen) is on the verge of a mid-life crisis, underappreciated by his wife Deanna (Melissa George), their sickly daughter Amy (Addison Timlin) and the swanky Chicago advertising firm where he works. A missed train hurls him into the path of the lovely, sassy Lucinda Harris (Aniston), who turns out to have an unhappy marriage and a daughter of her own.
    After some initial flirting that somewhat ill-advisedly references Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint's naughty transcontinental banter in "North by Northwest," Charles and Lucinda begin to date and confide in one another. Just as they are about to consummate their relationship, however, a Gallic gunman named LaRoche (Cassel) bursts into their motel room, beats Charles to a pulp, steals his wallet and, in a hideous, leering scene, forces himself on Lucinda while her would-be lover lies helpless in the corner.
    Terrified that the truth about their affair will come out, Lucinda and Charles opt not to file a police report. Soon, however, LaRoche begins threatening Charles by phone, demanding first $20,000, then $100,000 in cash.
    Repeatedly emphasizing Charles' inability to protect Lucinda, his family or himself, "Derailed" derives most of its juice from a sort of free-floating castration anxiety -- a threat made literal in one scene when LaRoche grabs Charles by the nether-regions and throws him against the wall of his own home.
    Owen has always been at his best playing smooth British badasses in films like "Croupier" and "Gosford Park," and it's simply no fun seeing him as a dumb schmuck. Despite a lingering hint of an English accent that lends the role a somewhat rarefied, cosmopolitan air, thesp can't help but tamp down his own natural charisma.
    After years of indifferent rom-com typecasting, Aniston, in her first thriller role since 1993's cult classic "Leprechaun," delivers a damsel-in-distress performance that convinces scene by scene, though her relatively brief screen time precludes the possibility of desperately needed character development. Overall chemistry between the two leads is wan at best.
    "If you don't know how to draw, you don't belong in this building" - John Lasseter 2006

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