In Review!: “The Girl on The Train”

The Girl on The Train‘s central character Rachel (Emily Blunt) confesses to one of the story’s several red herrings “I’m afraid of myself.” Unfortunately for the character (compellingly frustrating on the the page) and actress (appropriately frayed, but flopped around like a rag doll for the sake of making her Pathetic and Lost), the film is afraid of itself.

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What could be a thrilling dive into Lifetime movie territory with a glossier budget is instead the softest of lobs, too tepid to get kinky and too undercooked to command audience attention. Even its fleeting flirtation with 90s sex thriller elements and brutal violence are watered down with disinterest, as if it doesn’t know that that salaciousness is why we’ve showed up to Train in the first place. By denying its trashier impulses (and influences), the film suffers a bit of an identity crisis.

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Trailer Drop: “The Light Between Oceans”

Rumored to potentially hit in 2015, Derek Cianfrance’s literary adaptation of The Light Between Oceans has finally released a trailer. It stars this year’s Oscar nominees (and ubiquitous 2015 staples) Michael Fassbender and Alicia Vikander as a lighthouse keeper and his wife that take in an orphan newborn into their isolated island life. Things become heartbreakingly complicated when their life returns to the mainland.

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The source novel is an absorbing weepy that surprises as its themes take hold. The complexities and intimacies of a marriage and also the lingering effects of legacy have been explored soulfully by Cianfrance in previous films Blue Valentine and The Place Beyond the Pines. Here he looks to be just as introspective across a large canvas. With a prime festival season release date, expect this one to pop up somewhere on the fall festival bookings.

The Light Between Oceans opens on September 2!

In Review!: “Room”

An incredible fusion of all elements working in harmony, Lenny Abrahamson’s Room rises above audience trepidations of grimness to craft a triumphant human narrative. Adapted by Emma Donoghue from her own novel, the film begins on the fifth birthday of Jack, who lives with his Ma in a 10×10 shed where she has been held as a sex slave for seven years. Expect less some less punishing than this sounds, for this is a film more interested in our ability to overcome than ruminating on the gruesome. Room is a film of healing.

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Observational enough about their everyday lives to satisfy our fascinations, but never dipping into the obscene or grotesque, Room doesn’t shy away from the unpleasant aspects. It’s been made sufficiently clear by the film’s marketing that Ma and Jack indeed escape their confines, so that’s no spoiler here. The angle Abrahamson and Donoghue take to engage the audience is favoring the personal over the sensational – Jack has been led to believe that “Room” is the total universe, so everything on the outside is a terrifying revelation. Things are not so easy for Ma, either, as escape unexpectedly denies the comfort and mental respite life away from her captor had promised. For the protagonists as well as the audience, the world of Room is never that simple.

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