Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Future for "Premonition" is Bleak

I just finished watching the movie, Premonition, starring one of my favorite actresses, Sandra Bullock. A riveting premise taking a wrong turn down to the place of no return.

Get off at the nearest exit.

I don’t know who is more responsible for this clunker, the writer or the director. My bet is on the latter. I don’t care if he and Sandy shared little German moments on location, this movie did not gel.

For starters, which part is the premonition and which part really happened? Don’t just expect the audience to know. Presenting the days out of order is a brilliant disorienting device, but the plot still has to tie together at the end. Once the progression of days appears illogical, the movie can’t possibly work unless when unfolding sequentially, the days convey some sort of rhyme and reason. Otherwise, the audience is left with a “Huh?” or their lips, kernels of popcorn in their teeth, and nothing to write home about.

Second, like an unwrapped present accidentally discovered in a closet recess, Premonition never delivered the goods. Even after watching the bonus features, I couldn’t understand why on Thursday, Sandy couldn’t remember how her kid cut her face on Tuesday, and to add insult to injury, got carted away for it on Saturday. Even if her character suffered a complete mental breakdown, the two girls should have remembered how the accident occurred and told their story to the men in little white coats, or at the very least, to their grandmother.

Third, I cannot stand when music is purposefully injected into a film to manipulate the audience. Over the years, I have grown immune to such cheap ploys. Cut the violin from the shower scenes. It doesn’t work. Ditto the long pauses. Sandy looked ridiculous. Two seconds – at most – is long enough for the meaning behind her wonderfully expressive facial features to register in the minds of village idiots.

As the plot became more intense, the movie simply spiraled out of control. Loose ends hung so miserably, someone ordered an alternate ending. The original ending must not have tested well in California, because the alternate ending became the real one in theatres. How sad.

Both endings were such a disappointment no matter how many ways sliced. Here I thought the plot was working its way toward something very powerful, like the pay off in The Sixth Sense, but it never materialized.

While lamenting the choice of directors in this film, I came up with my own alternate ending, one I believe works much better with the disorienting technique, and which makes much more sense to the plot. Get this. Her daughters die with their father in the horrific crash, but this is too traumatic for Sandy to process, so she continues to imagine them alive. At the outset, we see she has grown disoriented. Like Nicole Kidman in The Others, she can’t come to grips with her misfortune. As she works with the shrink, the painful memories come flooding back. She cannot forgive herself for failing to recognize the signs of her daughters’ death in her premonition, only that of her husband. In the end, she becomes insane.

Movies like this are largely responsible for my decision to rent most movies rather than pay obscene amounts of money in theatres. My alternative was to find a job as a full-time movie critic, but I probably would have quit after a few weeks. Love the thought of being paid to watch movies; cannot imagine the torture involved in reviewing turkeys like this.

Thankfully, Sandy was in just about every scene or the movie would have been unbearable. Ever since Vanished, I have loved that little crinkle in her nose, the little skip in her step, and the way she eyes the camera with those slightly parted lips. Those who croon, “But you’re married,” please simmer down. I’m merely praising the woman, not wooing her.

Finally, the last outtake in the bonus features blooper reel is hysterical. If anything, rent the DVD just to see that.

The rest of this flick you can throw in the shower.

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