Business executive Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is under stress both at home (his marriage is drying up, his daughter is waiting for a cure for diabetes) and at work (he is fired from a major account). When meets sexy Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) on a Chicago commuter train, he is drawn by her intelligence and sassy personality. A couple of casual meetings he ends up in a seedy hotel room with her. As they undress, the door bursts open and he's beaten and she is raped by a man with a gun. Not long after, the gunman, a French crim, LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) calls Schine and begins to blackmail him so that his wife (Melissa George) and family don't find out about his infidelity with the woman. At stake is the money the Schines have been saving for their daughter's (Addison Timlin) cure. And Schine's life.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Films like Derailed show what a classy film Unfaithful is, treading a similar plot path. But Derailed, cursed by a title that so easily becomes a comment on the film, combines several improbabilities with cheating in the filmmaking; it plays like a conflicted and ugly revenge film trying to preach morals.
Without spoiling what there is of the plot twist, it's enough to say that the first act is devoted to establishing Schine's circumstances, ensuring our sympathies are fully on his side as a decent guy down on his luck on every front. The script then makes its first manipulative sleight of hand to introduce us - and him - to a woman on the train, Jennifer Aniston in fine dramatic form with dark brown hair and a business suit.
We forgive the lapse and move on to the second act, where the action takes place, propelling our protagonists towards their various fates. After the hotel incident in which Schine is beaten up and Lucinda raped, she talks him out of reporting the matter to the cops with the excuse that she doesn't want her husband to find out. Later, this failure to report the matter comes back to haunt Schine becasue, he is told straight faced by his lawyer, it means he can't now complain about being blackmailed. He obviously needs a better lawyer.
More problems with credibility at the start of act three, when LaRoche (a wonderfully nasty turn from Cassell) calls Schine on the mobile from Schine's home and threatens to harm his family. Schine dashes up the street only to find that LaRoche has passed himself off as a business friend and is having a lovely chat on the sofa with Mrs Schine (Melissa George). He could not possibly have just hung up from Schine without her hearing. Besides, they were in the middle of a conversation.
Audiences don't get fooled with such sloppy work, and once we lose credibility in the filmmakers, it's pretty much like a balloon pheerrzzing out its air.
As for the twist, it's just about credible, except for a couple of structural elements. And it's not so special as to make the film worth the wait.
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CAST: Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel, Addison Timlin, Melissa George, Sandra Bee, RZA, Tom Conti, Xzibit
PRODUCER: Lorenza di Bonaventura
DIRECTOR: Mikael Hafstrom
SCRIPT: Stuart Beattie (novel by James Siegel)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Peter Biziou
EDITOR: Peter Boyle
MUSIC: Ed Shearmur
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Andrew Laws
RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: BVI
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 23, 2006
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.