After the accidental death of his best friend, Josh (Jon Overton), privileged English public school student Alex Bennett (Eddie Redmayne) is charged with the shotgun death of his one time room-mate, the enigmatic and intense Nigel Colby (Tom Sturridge). Detective Martin McKenzie (Richard Roxburgh) has no hard evidence and is under pressure from Alex's father, (Patrick Malahide), who is also headmaster at Alex's school, to have the charges dropped. McKenzie calls in forensic psychologist Sally Rowe (Toni Collette), hoping she can determine Alex's guilt. Delving into the bizarre world of medieval history and deadly mind games that Nigel set in train, she discovers that though dead, Nigel's psychological effect on Alex is far from diminished.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
At what age are psychopaths recognisable? Greg Read's screenplay suggests they are pretty well born that way, and certainly by adolescence, they can turn their predisposition into active disposition. But the film is structured in a mix of linear and flash back storytelling which is sometimes confusing; it is also burdened by some extraneous material that adds to this confusion.
The good news, however, is that this psychological thriller (a UK/Australian co-production) is several notches above Hollywood teenage slasher movies and tackles material not usually the domain of Australian filmmakers. Read follows the profile of psychopaths being obsessive about something, and in this case it is found in history, where 13th century Knights Templars roam. It certainly makes the film interesting, and Read's revelations are carefully plotted like the trail of breadcrumbs leading back home for Hansel and Gretel. And offer the same sort of dark intrigue that those black fables use to grip the imaginations of children. It is the link from this to Nigel's obsession with death, cadavers, dissection and taxidermy provides the nerve jangling conduit for the visceral tension that Read maintains, and if he had resisted the temptation to overdo it, it would have been even sharper.
The two school boys who play Alex and Nigel (Eddie Redmayne, Tom Sturridge) deliver chillingly effective performances, every bit the match of the two Australians playing central roles, Toni Collette as the English forensic psychiatrist and Richard Roxburgh as an English detective. Sombre production design from Steven Jones-Evans adds good gloom to the mood, and the tension is well maintained. The first two acts - some story muddiness aside - are especially well handled, and despite a saggy third act, the finale comes through in a nod from one genre to another, as the psychological thriller salutes the horror movie.
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GREGORY J. READ INTERVIEW
LIKE MINDS (M)
CAST: Toni Collette, Eddie Redmayne, Tom Sturridge, Richard Roxburgh, Kate Maberly, Patrick Malahide, Jon Overton, John Colbie, Cathryn Bradshaw
PRODUCER: Jonathan Shteinman, Piers Tempest
DIRECTOR: Gregory J. Read
SCRIPT: Gregory J. Read
EDITOR: Mark Warner
MUSIC: Carlo Giacco
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Steven Jones-Evans
RUNNING TIME: 110 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Becker Ent
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 9, 2006
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