Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More
Profile for David Dignan > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by David Dignan
Top Reviewer Ranking: 2,253,408
Helpful Votes: 94

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
David Dignan

Page: 1
Plantronics Backbeat Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Mic
Plantronics Backbeat Pro Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones with Mic
Offered by liGo
Price: £129.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A few flaws but overall pretty good, 28 Mar. 2017
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I bought these mainly so I could watch TV and listen to the radio without the annoying noise coming from my neighbours' flat. They are great for wireless streaming from my Phone or Laptop. For TV I had to buy a headphone lead as I don't have a bluetooth TV and I found that transmitters don't work so well (continual noise drop-out being a main problem). However the sound is excellent and the noise cancelling is good, although is more 'noise reducing' as you will still hear outside noises from a feet away.They are pretty chunky so you won't look particularly great when wearing them but for indoor use, or if you are not as vain as me :) then they are fine. They are also very quick to charge (1-2 hours). Haven't used them for a phone conversation yet so no idea if the mic is any good or not but overall I'm fairly pleased with them.

Sonny the Sea Tractor
Sonny the Sea Tractor
by Loretta D'Souza
Edition: Paperback

5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely..., 20 May 2013
This review is from: Sonny the Sea Tractor (Paperback)
A beautifully written and illustrated book that is both entertaining for small children and also a good way of teaching them about seaside safety. Highly recomended!

Irreversible [DVD] [2003]
Irreversible [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Monica Bellucci
Offered by MEP Trading
Price: £8.99

1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave, stunning and sickening, 23 April 2004
This review is from: Irreversible [DVD] [2003] (DVD)
It is hard to describe this film other than it is quite unlike anythingyou will have seen before. The story is basically 3 people's descent froma happy, carefree existence into a living hell, told backwards. Theimagery is both stunning and hideously unnerving (certain scenes,particularly the very graphic rape will make you think about hitting thefast-forward button. Necessary, one assumes, as it does not shirk awayfrom it's purpose of telling the truth about the evil capability of thehuman race in it's basest form. This is a brave piece of cinema which isguaranteed to leave you both sickened and impressed. Not exactly a datemovie.

Mulholland Drive [DVD] [2002]
Mulholland Drive [DVD] [2002]
Dvd ~ Naomi Watts
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £6.97

17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insane In The Brain, 1 Jan. 2003
Rejected by the American network ABC and reshot as a full-length feature, this new David Lynch film has a genesis so tortured and troubled that it would be no surprise if, like the amnesiac female lead (Harring), it forgot where it was coming from. But for the most part, this exceptional drama of L.A. life plays out like an above-average pilot episode: television's loss is the cinema's gain.
Like a good pilot, Mulholland Dr. has plenty of recurring characters, some of whom you'd like to have seen more of in the series and some of which you fear you're going to see far too much of in your nightmares. The opening set-piece, a failed night-time hit on the titular twisting road high in the Hollywood hills, sets up the general mood - it's impossible to tell what's coming around the corner - but Lynch places an equal emphasis on his day scenes, and the way the city's diffuse light catches his principals' hair. Here, dark gangster's moll Harring and perky blonde ingenue Naomi Watts try to work out what's going on in a Rita Hayworth/Doris Day flatshare scenario good for any sitcom, while on the other side of town, black-clad director Justin Theroux (as good an offbeam Lynch hero as Kyle MacLachlan's Agent Cooper) is being pressured by entertainment industry heavies into casting a mystery actress as the lead in his new movie.
The opening hour and a half is relatively plain sailing, as funny and as scary as an episode of Twin Peaks. Lynch seems to be having fun with the absurd demands of movie bigwigs in meetings, and with the strangeness of the industry itself - there are shock-reveal scenes-within-a-scene, and love scenes which no mainstream U.S. network would broadcast but which are just about plausible in the context of the two women's mutual self-discovery. The plot seems to centre on an elusive blue box and key which would appear to be the secret to Hollywood success; here, the suggestion is that success is simply a matter of putting your key in the right hole, and if that's not a metaphor for sleeping your way to the top, I don't know what is.
In an instant, the characters shuffle roles and we start to watch a film in negative, the flip side of the entertainment industry: losers turn winners, and the once bold and beautiful become overnight tragic heroines. Only those who choose to stay outside the dream factory - the pimps, killers and derelicts - remain as they were, untouched by fame. If you've been hooked by the characters of the first half, you'll be thrown, but shouldn't mind sticking around for the resolution brought about when the movie turned inside out. Long-time Lynch fans might even recall the Mobius-style construction of Lost Highway or the complaints that Twin Peaks went off the boil in its second series; increasingly, it seems, this director is drawn towards these breaking or vanishing points, moments which could correspond to the last moment before the viewer drifts off to sleep, the first point of call for the consciousness upon waking, or the point at which the stage hypnotist clicks his fingers.
Whichever way, nothing after this blackout looks the same again, not least the performances. In an age when the most routine criticism of American cinema is the lack of decent roles afforded to its women, Lynch directs Harring and the extraordinary Watts through several interesting variations within the framework of the same or similar characters: amnesiac vamp, pert detective, suicidal seductress. And in almost certainly the most uniquely textured film to be set in Los Angeles this year, the tragedy of Watts' Diane Selwyn is not quite as emotionally affecting as the downfall of Laura Palmer, but you'd have to have a tough heart not to see the sorrow in the failed starlet who leaves behind only an empty stage, and words to the effect that the rest is silence.

Unbreakable (2 Disc Collectors Edition) [DVD] [2000]
Unbreakable (2 Disc Collectors Edition) [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Bruce Willis
Price: £8.07

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hero in a time of great ordinariness, 6 Mar. 2002
Writer-director Shyamalan's follow-up to his breakout film The Sixth Sense has Bruce Willis as David Dunn, a campus security guard in an icy, aqueous Philadelphia, where he holds onto the last remnants of a separate-bedroom marriage to Robin Wright Penn. The only survivor of a train wreck, Dunn crosses paths with Elijah Price (Jackson), a comic book collector suffering from brittle bones who's now convinced that the hulking, bald protector-of-the-young Dunn has the kind of superhuman powers which have been denied to his fragile self.
I didn't much care for The Sixth Sense, a major success which seemed to me cold and manipulative, its characters mere puppets to be whisked away, and proof that the best way to get ahead in Hollywood is to pull a few strings. Nonetheless, one had to admire Shyamalan's commitment to his narrative: The Sixth Sense was a slow-paced movie, but it showed the signs of a director who was paying acute attention to each facet of the production, and saying damn you to the popcorn-eaters who wished he'd just hurry things up a bit.
Unbreakable is a much better film, entering into the realms of comic books and myth-making with notable success. Like The Sixth Sense, this is a softly-spoken, low-key film, finding more interest in Willis rooting through his airing cupboard than in putting the train crash up on screen, but every moment that unfolds here has something new and interesting to look at and think about, with Shyamalan's tendency for bold colours and camera angles not only approximating those found in comic books, but also giving us a different perspective on events - and it is a perspective we may have lost, that of a child's.
The Sixth Sense offered many examples of primal fear - of the dark, of what's under the bed, of being locked in cupboards - and granted us with its camera the chance to take the Haley Joel Osment character's point of view, and thus see dead people. In every scene in Unbreakable where a child features, the camera takes on this juvenile point of view. The opening sequence, for example, has Willis stumbling through a conversation with a young woman on the train, watched by a kid through the gap in the seats in front of them. This could be seen as the apotheosis of modern American cinema - we're all infantilised by mainstream studio releases, going goo-goo over movie stars, dribbling at love scenes and wetting ourselves during shoot-outs - but also lends the drama an emotional charge, so that the audience, too, starts to look up at Dunn and consider him as a great man. It also allows us to rediscover a very childlike sense of wonder in the world, with its bright hues and strange darknesses, its small battles between good and evil made much bigger.
At any rate, this is a director who knows how to use the camera, and his framing is rarely less than perfectly worked out. One scene of dialogue, as a doctor breaks the news to Willis that he might be the only survivor of the train crash, is partially blocked by a bandaged body which begins to bleed into its swabs just as Willis, and - through him - the audience, starts to realise what it is that has taken place; Elijah's early scenes are shot as reflections in shop mirrors and television sets, so that any movement into the frame comes as disconcerting, a sucker-punch threat from a different direction to that one was expecting. Shyamalan is also, clearly, a great director of actors: Willis, allowed to be more physically present here than in The Sixth Sense, is an inspired choice given the actor's track record for playing superheroes who always have a weakness, and Jackson, with a stare to take to the grave with you, gets comic-book obsessiveness spot on, a purple-cloaked shadow of reclusive, crippled menace. For me, the film's major acting triumph was in the rediscovery of Robin Wright Penn - radiant here, her blue eyes finding their own place in the director's colour scheme.
This is a stranger, less clear-cut movie than The Sixth Sense, and stronger for it, for its ambiguity is that of the real world, where we tend not to see dead people. Jackson's Elijah, Shyamalan's curious prophet, has a powerful speech about the "mediocre times" we live in, and we have certainly lost a lot from post-modernism's battle cry of death to myths. By asking us to look at life through a child's eyes, this filmmaker has, in his last two films, professed a touching idealism - a faith in storytelling - which is as fragile as Elijah's bones or a glass cane in an era when we tend to laugh at the mythical and serious, the mystical and sincere. People have responded well to both films, which is a promising sign in such cynical times - a sign that we still possess a desire to be wide-eyed and strung along, even if only occasionally. Where The Sixth Sense had its audience coming out of the cinema only to go back over the film, to try and spot where we were twisted around the storyteller's finger, Unbreakable should - once you've debated the strange-but-not-quite-true ending - have you looking over your life, trying to spot any extraordinary features which will make you a hero in a time of great ordinariness
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 10, 2010 3:35 PM GMT

No Title Available

6 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scared of the dark and afraid of the light, 6 Mar. 2002
5. The Others (12)
Dir: Alejandro Amenabar.
With: Nicole Kidman, James Bentley, Alakina Mann, Christopher Eccleston.
When acclaimed foreign-language directors with self-penned scripts start to play around with American money, something can get lost in the translation. After Spanish debut Tesis and fair-to-middling European success with the soon-to-be-remade Open Your Eyes, the Chilean director Alejandro Amenabar here scores a major hit with a work boasting not only a big budget and an A-list star, but also - thankfully - considerable thematic coherence.
Awaiting her husband's return at the end of World War Two, Kidman and her two photosensitive children (Mann and Bentley) are locked by themselves in an ominously dark Jersey mansion, until the latest crop of servants (Fionnula Flanagan, Elaine Cassidy, Eric Sykes) show up and things start to go bump in the night. Everyone seems to have suffered some kind of trauma, and the title could refer to any of the following: the new servants, who emerge from the fog which surrounds the house; the "other" servants who once served Kidman and family in happier times; those left back home during wartime; or the spooky but somehow believable kids.
An early speech of Flanagan's Mrs. Mills acknowledges that "sometimes the living and the dead get mixed up". Where Open Your Eyes teased the viewer into guessing which aspects of the narrative were real and which imagined or fantastical, here we have to try and work out which of the characters are "real" and which ones are not. In setting the film at the end of the Second World War, the modernist Amenabar is interested in ongoing battles of good and evil, and how we can tell between the two: one set-piece has the young boy confused because the people his sister insists are ghosts aren't wearing white sheets and rattling chains around. In a world full of ambiguities, the key question is not what's haunting them?, but who's haunting whom?
The mansion is the spookiest horror household since The Exorcist, with no neighbours, a cemetery at the bottom of the garden, and muted interiors which hint at the spiritual rot and decay of people shut away from the world for any length of time. In a film where home furnishings are of special importance, we find a director who specialises in rug-pulling and table-turning: as in his earlier work, Amenabar sets out a series of alternative realities, each as credible as the next, and the director moves between these dream worlds and psychic spaces with great ease. Only the coda concedes something to Hollywood mores, taking us back to a limbo-reality best left to the viewer's imagination, though the director invests even this unnecessary over-explanation with a trademark tenderness that suggests love - even a love in limbo, between ghosts - is the most powerful force in this world or any other.
It's maybe too far-fetched to suggest that Amenabar deliberately wrote and directed a film about moral duality to mark his debut as an arthouse auteur taking the Yankee dollar, but he nonetheless follows through on the idea of this best of both worlds: in The Others, you get European craftsmanship going hand-in-hand with American showmanship, and a horror film that's both scared of the dark and afraid of the light.

Sexy Beast [DVD] [2001]
Sexy Beast [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Ray Winstone
Offered by ReNew Entertainment
Price: £5.23

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The age-old promise of One Last Job., 1 Mar. 2002
This review is from: Sexy Beast [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
Lying on his back in the Spanish sun, the excellent actor Ray Winstone here gets to play a big old ham: ex-gangster Gary Dove, a red lunk of meat whose pursuit of the good life in retirement with wife DeeDee (Redman) has left him softened and slow on his feet: his nickname is "Gal", which sounds a little too much like "girl" coming out of certain characters' mouths. If Dove is ripe for eating, the man - and the mouth - heading his way to do just that is Don Logan (Kingsley), a former criminal acquaintance manic in his mannerisms, offering the age-old promise of One Last Job.
This face-off is between a man who knows exactly when to move and when to stop moving - a gangster still in circulation - and one who simply cannot move any longer: Dove won't budge on refusing the proposal until Logan more or less hammers him into submission, or puts him in a position where he cannot do anything else but the job. There's been a lot of posturing in a lot of British gangster movies recently, but this is the first of the recent cycle to deal almost exclusively in the internal, being more concerned with the dream life of gangsters, their hopes and their fears. (In one of the film's several fantastical tropes, Dove imagines himself pursued by a giant rabbit.) Here, "inside" not only refers to a literal prison, but to the kind of inner life even the most dumbly inarticulate, two-bit low-life hood must possess, something that's been cruelly under-represented in many of the flashier British crime pics of late.
Former pop video director Glazer captures this sense of claustrophobia - of people living in their heads - with tight close-ups. He not only makes strange the genre's conventions (the film's heist involves middle-aged men with snorkel equipment making their way through underwater caves), but manages to subvert the fleshy eroticism of the pop video by making you look in entirely new ways at faces you've seen so many times elsewhere. It's a good job Winstone has some meat on his bleached-blonde features, and that Glazer can bring Redman's ravaged, lived-in beauty to the surface, because Kingsley and Ian McShane opposite them here become black-eyed skulls. Kingsley, in one of those performances which make you throw out everything else you've ever seen the performer doing, turns the prominent brow of a cerebral man into the bullet head of a professional boxer, and one who sees everything (bar the knockout punch) coming. The words go flying out of his mouth with just enough thought for them to be considered menacing and malicious, but along the lines of a stream of consciousness owing more to Waiting For Godot than to a Reservoir Dog.
Screenwriters Louis Mellis and David Scinto's origins are in the theatre, so perhaps it's not too much of a surprise that they've given what might have been a conventional story a sense of Beckettian inertia, but their symbolism has a richness and complexity to it, too, as far removed from the suits-shades-and-guns surface signifiers of the post-modern gangster movie as Dove's villa is from the sodden East End. Early on in the film, a massive boulder tumbles down the Spanish hillside and into the retired ex-con's pool, which might be a clue telling us what we're watching is going to be a drama of displacement - a film in which people are in places they're not supposed to be - with a few genuine shocks along the way, or it might come to represent Dove's predicament in being caught between, well, a rock (his new home) and a hard place (Logan, or the metallic blue-greys of the England Logan represents). Or it might be simply a moment to foreshadow a later development in the plot which sees large pieces of stonework floating around under water. Similarly, the rabbit which stalks Dove so vividly is possibly a dream manifestation of the rabbits which the ex-gangster and his cohorts hunt on the hilltops around the villa; I write "possibly" because, at the start of the film, Dove is clearly "the one that got away" from his former life (with Logan as the hunter assigned to track down this particular running rabbit), but the finale aligns Logan with the rabbit as a nightmare figure confined to the past. In any case, it's a rare honour to be dealing with a British movie that actively encourages such speculation.

Amores Perros [DVD] [2001]
Amores Perros [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Emilio Echevarría
Offered by figswigs
Price: £3.50

32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Traffic worth getting caught in, 28 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Amores Perros [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
When Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction beat out Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colours Red to win the Cannes Palme D'Or in 1994, the prophets of cinema, sensing a moment of significance, decried that all was lost, that the Cannes jury had given carte blanche to the post-modern inmates starting to deconstruct the asylum. Seven years later, this new Mexican feature may be the first film to confound the critics by being influenced by both those films and yet retain its own distinct textures. Its three tales of love, loss and dogs in Mexico City have enough sex and violence and people doing fantastic and terrible things to one another's bodies to remind one of the American cinema, but - as with the Three Colours movies - keep coming back to the small group of people whose lives we have become involved with.
The three tales are chosen to illustrate different kinds of love: neither the second, nor the third story comes close to matching the high-octane blood-sweat-and-tears of the first - in which dog-fighters tangle in a domestic tug-of-love - but then repetition doesn't seem to be high on Inarritu's agenda, and one of the reasons Amores Perros works as an impressive calling-card is that each of the pieces is very different in look and tone, allowing the debut director to prove himself as capable of handling a hip Tarantinoid crime segment as he is a melancholic Kieslowski-esque chamber piece. The second story, which starts with a decoy romance between a Cindy Crawford lookalike model and a Richard Gere-like matinee idol, is mostly confined to the model's dream apartment (which gets more and more beaten up as the film goes on) and has the ring of a Raymond Carver short story on love; the third story follows a tramp hitman known as "The Goat" but so removed from the world he's more of a ghost, with a wrinkle for every job and dirt so far under his fingernails that it's never coming out, as he goes about the city's scrapyards and rubbish dumps and tries to make up with his daughter.
The mood throughout is equal parts hopeful and pessimistic. If this is what we're prepared to do to man's best friend, Inarritu posits, what, then, are we liable to do to loved ones and strangers? Man himself gets down on all fours, is chained to a post, sits in front of the TV with his tongue hanging out, and goes for the throat of his fellow man in dark alleyways. The hitman is not the only character to care for his dog, but the only one who learns anything from animal behaviour: everyone in the end gets more or less what they deserve, though it's a sign of how much the writer and director have brought you into their world that you might ponder, long after the end credits, the fate of the unborn baby in the film's first part.
After last year's outstanding Magnolia, this is another ensemble piece perfectly realised, swapping frogs for dogs, but sharing Paul Thomas Anderson's fondness for telling little details tacked into the corner of the big cinema frame (it would seem one of the brothers in the final story is dating the woman who features on a poster in the bedroom of one of the brothers in the first episode) and it's here - in watching someone cutting their toenails (a quotidian act, but so rarely filmed) - you sense Inarritu's eye for detail. He also knows how to punctuate a movie for maximum effect: unlike Tarantino's breathless stream of words and deeds, each story here has at least one pause (paws?) for thought before the lights come back on, a crucial time and space for reflection. The final image, too, is of one man and his dog, walking through the darkness to find light at the end of the world: there is no full stop, no bullet point here - the film may end, but the quest for the meaningful companionship of any species goes on.

Traffic [DVD] [2001]
Traffic [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ Michael Douglas
Price: £3.75

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A multi-layered exploration of the drug business, 28 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Traffic [DVD] [2001] (DVD)
The director Steven Soderbergh here proves himself amongst the most intelligent and industrious of people currently working in the American film industry: not only is Traffic, a multi-layered exploration of the workings of the drug business and how deep U.S. narcotic policy runs, his third film in the space of just fourteen months, but - after the fragmented The Limey and the slick Erin Brockovich - this new film demonstrates just how well he can mix and match his projects to suit his individual tastes. Traffic has enough major stars to make it a Top Three U.S. hit, but also tackles the kinds of serious issues and personal, political writing more commonly found in much smaller projects.
Like a Robert Altman or Paul Thomas Anderson film, there's a multitude of speaking parts and a lot of plotting, but the key figures are newly-appointed drug czar Douglas, sent out to formulate a new policy from Washington but blind to his daughter (Christiansen)'s addiction until it's too late; a couple of surveillance cops, Don Cheadle and Luis Guzman; a high society wife (Zeta Jones), whose life is turned upside down when her husband is busted on a smuggling charge; and laid-back Mexican beat detective Del Toro, whose involvement with the movers-and-shakers south of the border proves that matters are just as complicated down there. Its method is that of cops working an investigation, so Soderbergh flips freely from location to location and from story to story before certain names begin to show up over and over in each of the different pieces and we begin to follow the leads which might connect the major players: for example, the unlikely-but-winning partnership of mercurial Cheadle and tubby Guzman, first seen taking down mid-level narc trafficker Miguel Ferrer, are working the case which sees the society wife's husband in court, and Del Toro, boxed in on all sides by corruption and secrecy, sits in on one of the drugs czar's briefings when the minister ventures into Mexico.
The best compliment you could pay to the principals (and to the director's work with those principals) is that each strand carries its own weight (Zeta Jones, with an unexpected ruthless streak, is a major surprise as a Lady Macbeth with lemonade), but Soderbergh even gets top-level actors (Albert Finney, Amy Irving, Salma Hayek) in support parts. This, perhaps, is a nod in the direction of Michael Mann (Heat, The Insider), whose casts have always tended to stock quality in depth, and - with its minimal ambient soundtrack and stylised lighting effects - Traffic noticeably starts to resemble the best Michael Mann film Mann himself did not direct; certainly Soderbergh's film disseminates as much information on its chosen, insidious subject matter as Mann's The Insider did on the tobacco industry last year, particularly in the sequences where Douglas interviews real-life congressmen, officials and other men in suits. Stephen Gaghan's script proves as good on the tensions which break up families as it is on those between opposing drug cartels, and, for its first half at least, seems crammed with jokes and anecdotes, distractions his characters use to pass the time - exactly the type of short-termism the movie seeks to critique on a political level.
Its sobering aftermath seems a little too neat, but the film's last hour is mostly chilling punchlines rather than easy resolutions, suggesting that it's the wrong people who are getting hurt in "the war on drugs", and Soderbergh gets two moments of brilliance from the changing expressions on his leads' faces: Douglas has an excruciating speech at a White House press conference in which it becomes uncomfortably clear that he doesn't believe in a word he's saying, and the look on Cheadle's face as he walks away from the house of the man who has continually eluded his efforts to bring him to justice is worthy of the ticket price alone.

Proof Of Life [DVD] [2000]
Proof Of Life [DVD] [2000]
Dvd ~ Meg Ryan
Price: £3.96

12 of 28 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars likely to be better remembered for what happened behind the, 28 Feb. 2002
This review is from: Proof Of Life [DVD] [2000] (DVD)
Meg Ryan and engineer David Morse are the married couple struggling through society functions in South America; when Morse is kidnapped by guerrillas, Ryan calls in Russell Crowe's kidnap risk negotiator, a man obsessed with obtaining "proofs of life" (the evidence which proves the subject isn't a dead duck), to bring her hubby back. This was the production on which Ryan left her long-time husband Dennis Quaid to spend more time in the company of Crowe, meaning that she dumped a man who in his last movie (Frequency) spent most of his time sitting around talking on a CB radio for a man whose latest movie has him sitting around doing much the same thing; at any rate, Proof Of Life is one of those movies likely to be better remembered for what happened behind the scenes than for anything actually preserved up on screen.
After the high-points of The Insider and Gladiator, this is Crowe's introduction to the kind of silly Hollywood melodrama every leading man has to go through at least once in their career, his star power roped in to give a ropy script a bit of an edge, but there's an awful scene in the first fifteen minutes - between his character, a divorced ex-SAS man, and the poor little rugby-playing orphan boy who calls him "sir" - which lets him, and the audience, know exactly what to expect. (It should be noted that everyone involved with this scene looks suitably embarrassed.) Of the other two, Morse does terrific work, trudging over the hilltops with a castaway's beard and a steely look of resolve in his eyes which never lets up, but Ryan, taking yet another thankless role in a recent career of thankless roles in thankless movies, gets the short-straw character of an ex-hippy forced to stand around smoking in bad fashion choices or running around after a man whose job is running around after a man who builds dams while his wife stays at home. Too many of the supports - Reed's sister-in-law, David Caruso's wisecracking partner, almost all of the ethnic characters - play for broad comedy which lets any tension go; you may like to compare Proof Of Life with Richard Price's script for Ron Howard's underrated 1996 thriller Ransom, a more psychological take on the kidnap movie which had far fewer "outs" for its characters - and its audience. The only interesting point the plot has to make - a tentative parallel drawn between jungle terrorists and multinational corporations - is lost about halfway in as a promising drama about people cut off from the world gives way to let's-kill-all-the-kidnappers gung-ho with a collapsible love triangle stapled on (Crowe rediscovers his Andy McNab genes just as Ryan's working out what she really feels for her husband.)
The love triangle can't work because Morse is more likeable than the Crowe-Ryan relationship would allow, and the action-thriller element features the worst plot contrivance of any major studio release this year: Ryan's housemaid's daughter does the kidnappers' laundry. (That should teach them for sending out.) The final irony is that Warner Bros. and Castle Rock each spent several million dollars on a film which demonstrates remarkably few proofs of life itself.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 31, 2010 11:22 AM BST

Page: 1