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When psychiatrist Sam Foster (Ewan McGregor) stands in for a colleague (Janeane Garofalo), he inherits Henry Lethem (Ryan Gosling) a troubled young man who tells Sam that he intends to commit suicide at midnight on Saturday. Sam tries to understand Henry’s core problem, and tries to keep it a secret even from his girlfriend and former patient Lila (Naomi Watts), who had herself tried to commit suicide earlier. But his world begins to blur between reality and some sort of fantasy, and Henry’s increasing agitation, driven by his sense of guilt, involves his claims that he killed his parents in a car accident on the Brooklyn Bridge, which haunts him.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In the twilight zone, no one can hear you scream, whether it be in pain, fear or anger. But writer David Benioff has invented a twilight zone in which not only can the dying scream, they can (in a few short minutes) experience 90-odd minutes worth of strange behaviour by people who crowd around them as death approaches. The convulsed story that follows the opening car crash – itself a blur – is resistant to logical discovery but invites us to juggle the convergence of reality and fantasy. The problem for most audiences will be the fact that the fantasy doesn’t unfold from a single perspective.

Whether the lack of story clarity is a weakness or a virtue is an individual response, but the filmmakers do not hesitate in playing up the cinematic flourishes, ranging from dissolves that provide unexpected, disassociated juxtapositions of subject, to the mystifying physical switching of Sam and Henry a couple of times, as if to suggest they are interchangeable. It seems that Marc Forster (whose previous films Monster’s Ball and Finding Neverland were not only more accessible but more involving) has been seduced by the warped side.

Further distanced by characters who are hardly sympathetic, audiences might wonder why Bob Hoskins plays a blind man who may or may not be Henry’s dead father, and why a stranger on the subway who angrily tells Henry to stop smoking turns up as merely an interested passer by after the car crash. And what relevance is there to Janeane Garofalo’s strange and little seen character. These are just a few of the elements that are suggestive of those meaningless dreams, in which nonsense is made of tangible elements from waking life. (Like Henry’s favourite artist is a young man who burned all his works and committed suicide as an act of pure art.)

It’s not the death of his parents that Henry should feel so guilty about, but taking us into his final fantasy.

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(US, 2005)

CAST: Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts, Ryan Gosling, Bob Hoskins, Janeane Garofalo

PRODUCER: Eric Kopeloff, Tom Lassally

DIRECTOR: Marc Forster

SCRIPT: David Benioff


EDITOR: Matt Chesse

MUSIC: Asche & Spencer


RUNNING TIME: 99 minutes

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: March 29, 2006

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