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X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, THE

SYNOPSIS:
When a female FBI agent goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the Agency calls on the very retired and reticent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) - through his ex Agency partner, the now busy and committed physician, Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson). She has her own problems, trying to save the life of a young boy with serious brain disease. But she convinces Mulder, who is soon intrigued by convicted pedophile priest Father Joe (Billy Connolly) whose apparent psychic powers lead the FBI to their first grisly clue. As another woman goes missing, the urgency intensifies but Mulder's willingness to believe is shaken and those around him, even Scully, draw back from the inexplicable.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
It's complicated - but not too much so. And I'm referring to the revived old relationship between Mulder (David Duchovny) and Scully (Gillian Anderson) - as well as the plot. The fans will lap up this thrilling new feature that has gestated in the belly of the hugely popular series for years. From its no holds barred start to its heartfelt finish, the film is compelling entertainment, thanks in part to a great script and in part to the top performances.

Mature in every way, the film and its characters lead us scene by scene through a maze of clues and scares as the story elements start to converge. I don't want to spoil the revelations by saying more about that, except that it's clever and credible. The writers have woven a rich and complex story in which the characters move with great dramatic payoffs.

Duchovny and Anderson bring a maturity to their characters, infused with a well worked subtext about their relationship, which sustains throughout, without relying on gimmicks or stretches of credibility. Both actors bring depth and emotion to the film, as does the wonderful Billy Connolly, who clearly responded to the challenge of playing Father Joe, a repentant pedophile with a psychic gift - or is it just fantasy? Connolly is superbly in command of his character and shows us a level of complexity that elevates his support role to a higher plane.

Great support from Amanda Peet and Alvin Xzibit Joiner as FBI agents, the former very matter of fact and let's get the job done, the latter dismissive of Mulder and his openness to the psychic.

The film's great achievement is that even within the bounds of its genre as a supernatural thriller, it generates a much deeper resonance about a range of issues, from God and faith to the mysteries of daily life.

Review by Louise Keller:
The white of snow provides the setting for this dark tale in which the unexplained provides the most provocative questions. It's hard to believe it has been ten years since the highly popular X-Files TV series finally found its way to the screen, but it's no surprise that the chemistry between David Duchovney's Mulder and Gillian Anderson's Scully remains as binding as ever. Nothing is simple: from the tense plot involving severed body parts and animal tranquilisers to Billy Connolly's remorseful pedophile priest whose psychic visions are punctuated by tears of blood. And not least is the complexity of Mulder and Scully's multi-layered relationship, beginning with their personal bond before ricocheting into areas of their fundamental individual differences. Superbly made with an edge of the seat tension that lingers, X-Files fans will be more than satisfied as the credible and incredible sit side by side in an explosive melee.

There's something eerie about the opening snow-covered sequence in Somerset West Virginia, when Billy Connolly's grey, messy haired psychic is flanked by an army of FBI agents, as he uses his talents to locate frozen body parts buried in the snow. Connolly himself is buried as deeply inside his tortured character as is the arm wrapped in black plastic beneath the snow, as he delivers a ghost of a man whose sins have stripped him of a soul. Amanda Peet and Xzibit join the cast as agents on the case, but all the warmth and humanity belong to Mulder and Scully, who both reveal the scars from their past as well as the unshakeable bond that keeps them together. Mulder has become a recluse, while Scully questions her right as a doctor to make decisions for her young patient. As they unwittingly become involved in this new case involving a missing FBI agent, their involvement becomes deeper and deeper, like footprints in the snow.

Writer director Chris Carter knows the X-Files characters back to front and stays true to the essence of the TV series' mystique. The story reveals itself slowly; it feels as though we are kept on a leash until the final reveal, when the full ugliness of the events are shown under the spotlight. Tension mounts by the ever-constant barking of dogs, and the contrast of the stunning wintry setting with the grimy plot undercurrent. While the issues canvassed onscreen are significant, it is the even larger imponderables that propel the story into something more intriguing in this thought provoking and thrilling film.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

X-FILES: I WANT TO BELIEVE, THE (M)
(US/Canada, 2008)

CAST: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Alvin Xzibit Joiner, Adam Godley, Callum Keith Rennie

PRODUCER: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz

DIRECTOR: Chris Carter

SCRIPT: Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bill Roe

EDITOR: Richard Harris

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Mark Freeborn

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Fox

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 24, 2008







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