MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +1

Content: -4

Robert DeNiro, Edward Norton, Milla Jovovich. Crime drama. Written by Angus MacLachlan. Directed by John Curran.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A convicted arsonist looks to manipulate a correctional officer into a plan to secure his parole by placing his beautiful wife in the lawman's path.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Though well-acted, this physiological drama is slow-paced and depressing. Whatís more, the filmís message is so vague, itís difficult to reason why anyone would subject oneself to the cruelty and profanity that comprises most of the screen time. (Read the content.)

The film starts out with the morose DeNiro character threatening to throw their child out the two-story window if his wife leaves him. She doesnít leave, but rather stays with this dead-inside man (not sure why she married him to begin with, but thatís just one of the questions never answered). So we have a silent husband, a sad wife, both alcoholics, and then the intro of Nortonís character, a channeling of Robert Mitchumís satanic ex-con in the original Cape Fear, and the beautiful, but extremely manipulative wife of the convict, who seduces DeNiro in order to get her husband free.

DeNiroís character seems to be going through a quiet meltdown, his temper flairing with obscenities and profanities to emphasis his anger. Throughout the film we see this man and his wife attending church, she trying to get something out of it, while he is merely walking through ritualistic motions. We see a person caught up in the ritual of religion, yet never truly finding a relationship with Christ. The film fails to present any positive example of Christianity. Sadly, the one time he approaches his pastor with questions about faith, even the minister seems unable to bring comfort or a sense of spirituality to the moment. Weíre left with the message that Christianity as a faith has no reality.

Is there a profound message that escaped me? Perhaps. I can tell you this: it was a film that grieved my spirit. Perhaps that sadness springs from two hours of viewing lost people. Maybe itís having to sit through another DeNiro film. Great actor, no question. But even in his comedies, his character is a dark figure. Ed Norton seems to be going in the same professional direction.

DVD Alternative: The Apostle (1997). This perceptive drama, written, directed and starring Robert Duvall, never condescends, nor is it antagonistic toward people of faith while telling its story of a good but imperfect manís redemption. PG-13. I found nothing offensive for exploitive purposes. The implied adultery, its one violent scene, the reverend's faulty nature, and a couple of mild expletives serve to further the story rather than shock us or malign the ministry.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Overture Films

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Some crude sexual comments from the convict

Obscene Language: After 113 obscenities, mostly the s- and f-words, I lost count.

Profanity: Around ten profane uses of Godís name and three of Christís.

Violence: We see a bloody stabbing in a prison, the knife punches in more than twenty times, blood spurting out over another manís face; we see two dead bodies covered with gasoline and set on fire, burning down the house; another man is threatened by a gun. Blood: One very bloody scene

Sex: Three graphic sexual situations

Nudity: We see the woman nude several times.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Several sexual conversations peppered with graphic and crude adjectives.

Drugs: The DeNiro character and his wife are seen drinking whenever they are together, the film indicating that they are alcoholics.

Other: None

Running Time: 105 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.