While dealing with a few health issues this week, I struggled to really come up with something to write about and watch when I had the spare time. Thusly, I turned to Netflix and was surprised to see a movie starring Amy Adams that was billed as a “mystery” and “crime” story. Intrigued, I moved forward with what has to be one of the biggest wastes of two hours I’ve spent in 2021 so far.
Normally I focus more on attempting to find something positive about the films I watch, but it becomes immediately apparent that there won’t be much for me to find enjoyable from the introduction alone. Colors, visuals and even the set design is all flat and uninspiring, with very muted hues of blue especially visible. Even when this film tries to have colors stand out, it fails in similar muted fashion with the colors being visible but never erupting from the frame. Often times, this happens because the question of a light source is constantly in doubt, and even though this film is supposed to take place in a grounded reality, nearly nothing about how light works makes sense throughout it. This is before we can even touch on two other horrific wrongdoings in this film: the editing and sound design. Throughout the entire course of this movie, there are cuts that intersperse the action in the same exact shot to make certain events seem to happen more quickly, such as something appearing on a street or around a corner. Basically every sound you hear in this film doesn’t seem to exist within the film’s universe, and it makes it incredibly disorienting trying to discern where anything is happening in the movie’s universe. What’s supposed to be a psychological thriller ends up feeling entirely unrealistic because nothing we’re seeing is either particularly engaging or making any sense even within the movie’s own rules.
In fact, everything about this film is shot and edited in such a way that it feels extraordinarily cheesy and manufactured. Nobody really feels like a believable character- everyone feels like an actor reading lines to a script, and that makes any of the tension feel fake. You give Amy Adams (who plays Anna Fox) something to do and she’s a great actor, but when you have a character who is not given realistic lines, who doesn’t have a full script to work with, and she isn’t able to give a good performance. It’s as simple as that- even the best actors cannot breathe life into a script that lacks the fundamental components that make believable characters. There are situations that are entirely unreasonable because of this, such as Anna and Ed having a full blown conversation in front of their daughter about their marriage as if… she doesn’t have ears? There are multiple twists in the story that are supposed to be powerful or moving, but simply cannot escalate to the point because nothing we’ve seen to that point have been realistic. How are we supposed to relate to our protagonist’s story if we can’t relate to her at any point outside of surface level aesthetics and basic plot devices? We haven’t been shown anything that helps us establish that connection on any deeper level- we’re only left with these top layers and not ability to look further past them outside of actors that are clearly trying to do their best to go deeper.
But, as they say, even when you can, you can’t. There’s no avoiding it, the script itself has lines that don’t seem human, the shot composition conveys… nothing of emotional importance. In fact, there could have been a great story told here, with a woman questioning her sanity as she goes through stages of attempting to solve a series of criminal events surrounding her. Instead, we got a film that fits every bad Hollywood-wannabe trope, from bad CGI to terrible music, generic sound cues, and an ending fight scene that is one of the funniest choreographed pieces of “horror” fights I might have seen in my life. There is truly some talent involved in the production of this movie, from Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, but not a single one of them can save this production from whatever alleged creatives were in charge of its other technical elements. I haven’t ever read A.J. Finn’s novel that this film is based off of, but I imagine it’s far and away better than whatever this schlock is. I give this film a 3 out of 10.