Who's In It: Arsinee Khanjian, Scott Speedman, Rachel Blanchard, Devon Bostick
The Basics: An orphaned teenage boy, with the help of his teacher, creates a parallel "truth" about how his parents died (car crash? or were they terrorists?) and, with the further help of the internet (reliable at spreading a story, not so good at verifying it) turns his fiction into fact. And then people sit around and talk about the ramifications of that in a way that might feel like a slow inevitable drowning if you're not totally prepared for a moody bummer of a movie.
What's The Deal:
It always feels wrong to criticize a movie for having too many ideas or too much ambition when the majority of them have neither, but this is Atom Egoyan we're talking about. He's the Canadian director of stuff like The Sweet Hereafter
and The Adjuster
and he's really into characters with shifting identities, plots that come at you from scrambled timelines and conflicting human perspectives. In other words, he makes little puzzles that he demands you sit back and wait for as he puts the pieces together in front of your eyes. And this one is no different. I won't spoil the plot(s) but I will say that if you've seen any of his movies before then you'll know he's done it better before this.
Just How Moody And Talky It Is, ScaleOof 1 To 10: 8. Everything from the darkly lit cinematography to Scott Speedman's clinically depressed facial hair makes you feel like you're in the dead center of a case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. And honestly, that's one aspect of the movie I liked. I'm personally really into summer movies that can make me think it's November and cold rain is falling outside. It takes the pressure off you to have nothing but sunshiny fun during those hot months.
Whose Performances Are Worth Looking At: Devon Bostick, as the media-manipulating teen, is just the right kind of gawky. And Speedman, as the saddest uncle ever, looks like he's simply relieved that he's not in the next Underworld movie.
What's Missing: A sense that the director isn't simply going through the motions. You wonder what kind of film he'd make if he didn't rely on his acclaimed yet really recognizable bag of tricks.