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28 DAYS

SYNOPSIS:
Gwen Cummings (Sandra Bullock) is a New York party girl, hopping from one pill-and-drink-hazed weekend on the club circuit to the next, with boyfriend Jasper (Dominic West) a handsome Englishman. When she badly disgraces herself at her sister's weddding - and piles a limo onto someone's house - she is sent by the courts to a rehab house for 28 days. Resisting the rules and the practices that make the rehab work, she comes face to face with counsellor Cornell (Steve Buscemi), who tries to work through the layers of city-fed cyncisim with little success. Her past, her sister and her own self image are constant demons she has to repel. But Gwen is brought up short when she recognises - with the help of some of her fellow inmates - that she is what she chooses to be and starts to question what that is.

"The upside down credits reflect an upside down life, in 28 Days, an absorbing drama about facing reality when escape is the means to survival. Screenwriter Susannah Grant's concise screenplay compels us into Gwen's world – her journey is moving and poignant. Its economy elicits punch - from denial to acceptance. Sculptured with dramatic impact, we become involved in personal stories and understand their plights. Sandra Bullock is utterly convincing as the party girl, whose wild ways harbour the deep emotional pain she is desperately trying to forget. This is a story about a girl, about sisters, about relationships, inadequacies, fears and hopes. It is above all, an exploration of feelings, and our emotions respond. The entire cast is wonderful – Viggo Mortensen, Elisabeth Perkins and Dominc West – very different characters whose very differences form an impact. Interesting casting pits Steve Buscemi against type as the steadfast counsellor – empathetic but not sympathetic. There's an abundance of inner warmth and sincere honesty which draws us deep into this protected environment that is so difficult to come to terms with, but surprisingly difficult to leave. We experience everything through Gwen's eyes. What initially appears ridiculous (the chanting, the hugging, the songs) become strangely comforting as we understand the emotional journey the characters are going through. The issues are treated with intelligence and candour – they are never glossed over superficially. The humour evolves from the characters and the circumstances – something to which we can all relate, while the punchy soundtrack and terrific choice of songs enhance our emotional response. Entertaining, gripping and stirring, 28 Days strikes chords in us all."
Louise Keller

"The best part of this engaging and well observed screenplay is its ability to be amusing in the best possible way. We are neither given dollops of syrup nor taken for fools. A lively and life-like scenario takes us inside Gwen's personality, complete with its emotional baggage. The film never categorically states that her drunken mother was directly responsible for Gwen's drinking weakness, and we are never expected to make simple judgements. Indeed, we are not required - or invited - to make any judgements at all. Gwen is not a victim except of her own short sightedness. The film is not about drug abuse, yet it deals with the issues of recreational drug use in a most effective way. The end result of all these positive elements is that the film is accessible, entertaining, profound and humorous, human and bitter sweet all at once. We end up caring even about the supporting characters and we sense that while the resolution is positive, it's not simplistic and nobody lives happily ever after. It's a pleasure to see a studio film which doesn't shy away from complex issues yet retains its sense of humour - while respecting the audience's intelligence."
Andrew L. Urban

"Possibly the idea here was that Sandra Bullock playing an alcoholic would help her shake off her fluffy, lightweight screen image. In practice, it seems to have worked the other way round, so we get a fluffy lightweight movie about alcohol abuse. I can't say playing a drunk reveals any new sides to Bullock's persona - she seems just about as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as usual. At the start, we see her staggering around and behaving badly in cute, slapstick ways (e.g. falling into a wedding cake) but her essential sweetness largely cancels out her character's supposed brittle, bitchy traits. Once Gwen arrives at rehab, the film veers between 'inspirational' drama and broad comedy without being particularly effective as either. The tone is consistently light and brisk, so that a tragic plot twist near the end seems both unnecessarily heavy and too casually treated. While Gwen's alcoholism is explained in some notably pat and unconvincing flashbacks, much of our attention is diverted onto the varied group of supporting actors, who manage to keep things fairly lively. Alan Tudyk as the zany gay German guy has the worst of the forced humor, but Azura Skye, as a teenage soapie fan, is funny without resorting to total caricature. Viggo Mortensen plays roughly the same wooden hunk he did in A Walk On The Moon; as Gwen's raffish English boyfriend, Dominic West is a good deal more attractive, if only because he seems closer to an imaginable human being. As for Steve Buscemi, he certainly looks haggard enough to play an ex-alcoholic: no longer the hip star of the moment, he's entering the character actor's comfortable middle age. He may not have helped his career by appearing in this movie, but he still looks set to outlast Sandra Bullock."
Jake Wilson

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 1
Mixed: 0

TRAILER

28 DAYS (M)
(US)

CAST: Sandra Bullock, Dominic West, Viggo Mortensen, Azura Skye, Michael O’Malley, Steve Buscemi, Elizabeth Perkins, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Dianne Ladd, Alan Tudyk

DIRECTOR: Betty Thomas

PRODUCER: Jenno Topping

SCRIPT: Susannah Grant

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Declan Quinn

EDITOR: Peter Teschner

MUSIC: Richard Gibbs

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Marcia Hinds-Johnson

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 25, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment

VIDEO RELEASE: December 13, 2000







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