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DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE

SYNOPSIS:
Frank Morrison (John Travolta) is a down-on-his-luck boat builder and devoted if divorced father to his 12 year-old son Danny (Matt O'Leary). Danny now lives with his mum Susan (Teri Polo) and her new husband Rick Barnes (Vince Vaughn). Danny is very close to his father, and while he has a reputation for making up stories, he never lies to him. But when Danny tells his father that he has seen Rick murder a man, Frank is unsettled and unsure what to believe. Dannyís mum and the police put it down to Dannyís antagonism towards his motherís new husband.


Review by Louise Keller:
Propelled by a simply splendid music score that teases, thrills and terrifies, Domestic Disturbance is a tense and gripping thriller loaded with appeal. It is good to see John Travolta shine in a role as a simple family man, whose priority is his son. Unlike recent slick roles in Swordfish, Lucky Numbers and The General's Daughter, there's nothing slick or hero-like about Travolta's Frank Morrison. But Travolta charms us unequivocally by his warmth and sincerity, making what could have been just another formulaic Hollywood thriller, into a film with more substance. Vince Vaughn is imposing as Rick, the villain stepfather: at 6'5" he towers over everyone, and his physicality is put to very good use. Vaughn revels in the dark side of his character and there are plenty of real scares and surprises that keep us on the edge of our seats. Harold Becker (Sea of Love, Malice) expertly guides the heart of the film, working effectively on the psychological edge and the fear generated between Rick and Danny. Matt O'Leary is impressive as Danny, and the relationship between father and son is very real and tangible. If there's a flaw in the script, it lies in the relationship between Teri Polo's Susan and Rick, and the fact that she doesn't seem to know very much about the man she has married. (Or is love really blind?) A master stroke of casting with Steve Buscemi as Ray, the crim from Rick's past, and Buscemi milks the role for all itís worth. How natural and ironic it seems for seedy Ray to stay at the Shady Tree Motel. Where else would such a shady character stay? And what a scene stealer Buscemi is. We remember his bad dressing at the wedding and the banter about the wedding present he would have bought. Domestic Disturbance delivers more than you expect and the climax hits our emotional barometers with great impact. Powerful, engrossing and satisfying, itís a compelling Hollywood thriller studded with Travolta star power.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Thrillers that are set within middle American suburbs are a specific sub-genre, and the familiarity of the setting, the structure, even the characters (decent family, even if separated or divorced, decent town, average everything) can be jolted into freshness by direction and casting. John Travoltaís recent roles make this seem like casting against type, a hardworking and loving character. Not even close to his ruthless Gabriel Shear in Swordfish, for example. Steve Buscemi, too, is a casting coup, and young Matthew OíLeary is mighty good as the crucial kid of the plot. But itís the script that deserves top honours, with a well constructed story that allows for just a dash of audience involvement. Neatly and carefully laid writing plans sometimes come adrift in the hands of some directors, but Harold Becker has the story well in hand, and maintains the emotional balancing act required to take us with the characters, even though we are in on the truth. We know what really happened, but we canít quite rely on our expectations as to the outcome (except for jaded cynics and ageing critics, perhaps). Excellent production design and music help encase us in the filmís tone and the location helps generate a real sense of place, which is crucial. Domestic Disturbance is not unique, but itís a well made piece of entertainment that wonít disappoint you.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

DOMESTIC DISTURBANCE (M)
(US)

CAST: John Travolta, Vince Vaughn, Teri Polo, Matt O'Leary and Steve Buscemi

PRODUCERS: Donald De Line, Jonathan D. Krane

DIRECTOR: Harold Becker

SCRIPT: Lewis Colick (story Lewis Colick, William S. Comanor, Gary Drucker)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Seresin

EDITOR: Peter Honess, ACE

MUSIC: Mark Mancina

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Clay A. Griffiths

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: UIP

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: February 7, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Paramount

VIDEO RELEASE: August 2, 2002







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