Directed by Robert Altman
Screenplay by Al Hayes
Kenneth Branagh, Embeth Davidtz, Robert Downey Jr., Daryl Hannah, Tom Berenger, Robert Duvall
Budget $25M Box Office $1,534,569
IMDb 5.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 58% Metacritic 65/100
Today when I got up, I happen to catch this movie from the beginning. My lucky day. So, with coffee and cigarette in hand, I embarked on waking up to this thriller. I have to be honest it was the description of the film that was on the info on cable and the cast. I mean, I’ll watch almost anything with Robert Downey Jr. in it. Except the Iron Man movies. (Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I’m the only person on this earth that doesn’t like those movies. Don’t get all twisted about it. The franchise isn’t going to go down because I don’t watch it.)
This was one interesting film. First off, this is the first time I’ve seen Robert Duvall have so few lines. I mean he barely speaks at all in this movie. But he does have a certain creep factor about him. I think a lot of that has to with his character and appearance rather than the actual script. Next, Robert Downey Jr. was quite the piece of work in this film. He pulls off this great accent and plays the drunkard private investigator to damn near perfection. This was in 1998, during the height of Downey’s drug use and failing career. So, it doesn’t surprise me that he can pull off a drunk when he’s drunk and stoned all the time himself.
So, here’s the set up for the film. A young woman meets a divorced lawyer with a questionable reputation at a party that he’s attending and she’s waiting tables. He expects to have a one-night stand but develops feelings for her rather quickly. She shares with him that her father is stalking her and threatening her, that he’s done things like steal her car and hang her cat to its death. Seeing as how this lawyer has a personal interest in this gal, he offers the support of his small practice and resources to help get her father committed to a mental hospital for evaluation. They succeed.
Unfortunately, Daddy breaks out of the hospital, with some help, and starts stalking not only his daughter but her new lawyer friend and his kids. Things start getting violent and crazy. Next thing you know, people are dying, being abducted, being terrorized and threatened.
So, what do they do? Does she make it? Does the lawyer? And why is Dad all crazy anyway? You’ll have to watch the movie to find out.
I will say that I didn’t have any trouble staying interested in the film. It was easy for me to watch. I haven’t read any other reviews on the movie, but the ratings seem to label this film as average. What really surprises me is the horrible Box Office numbers compared to what the film budget was. I mean, I don’t think a lot of that budget went to the actual making of the film.
At the time this film was made, Downey Jr. had had so many problems with drug arrests and failed drug tests as part of his sentencing that it was almost impossible for the studio to insure him. It ended up costing over $1 million dollars to insure the actor and filming had to begin with no insurance for Downey Jr.
The screenplay writer, Al Hayes, is actually director Robert Altman. However, after all the time he put in to write this screenplay, the initial test screening was terrible. The studio, Polygram Films, decided to go outside the film crew and hire an editor to re-work the film. This editor criticized Altman’s version of the film, saying that it basically lacked punch and suspense and had an ailing film score. The new editor made changes and the film was screen tested again. This time it went over worse than the original Altman version.
Still, when the film released it got decent reviews, a vast amount praising Altman for his touches to the film, citing that it would have been just mediocre fodder without his contributions to the film. The initial reviews also praised main character star, Kenneth Branagh for his role in the film and attributed a lot of the films interest to his acting as well.
Overall I liked the film. There were a few times I was rewinding the DVR to catch something small that was said or something like that. I liked the story. I liked the way it all came together and I like that it’s definitely more realistic in the end than a lot of stuff spewed out of Hollywood. I do think it’s gonna be a film that I’m going to have to watch a time or two more to really be able to follow all the little ins and outs of how it came together, which doesn’t bother me. It’s a movie I’m willing to watch again. In fact, it might be one of those that grows on you.