The happily married life of doctors Joe (Kevin Costner) and Emily Darrow (Susanna Thompson) is shattered when Emily is killed in a tragic bus accident in the Venezuelan jungle. Her body is never recovered, and Joe struggles to find closure. He throws himself into his work, until the children in his wife's Oncology Ward - who have literally come back from the tunnel of white light - claim to have spoken with her. They become obsessed with a puzzling symbol, "like a crucifix made of jello". "She says you should go there," they advise him. But where is "there"?
Review by Shannon J. Harvey:
How ironic. In Dragonfly, Kevin Costner is a doctor who thinks his dead wife is using her patients to tell him something. In real life, Costner could use someone to tell him to make better movies. The guy might have enjoyed Oscar glory in Dances with Wolves, but more often than not he's drowned in Waterworld, The Postman, and countless other turkeys. Perhaps it's because his solemn face seems to have only three expressions - confused, bemused or irritated. In Dragonfly, it stays in confused mode for 102 minutes until the climactic minute when all is revealed. It's an enjoyable enough popcorn movie, with only mild amount of supernatural suspense. The film aspires to be an inspirational mystery about one man's spiritual journey - a la The Sixth Sense or What Lies Beneath. But it's awash in cheap shocks, corny sentiment and limp predictability. Costner struggles to convince as an emergency room doctor, moving with a pace that would never cut it on ER. But he does make a lightening quick transition from atheist to New Age believer in the afterlife. Perhaps it's the way his wife manages to reach him through her amazing array of supernatural tools. She speaks through dying patients, draws symbols on the windows, has dragonflies hover about outside, and moves heavy objects around the house. She can even manipulate her pet parrot! If she's that good, why didn't she just write down directions to her whereabouts? Kathy Bates is wasted as Costner's trusty next-door neighbour who lost her daughter some time ago - which leads you to think the deaths might be linked. And Linda Hunt is spooky as a nun who might have the key to near-death experiences. But both characters and their possibly juicy revelations are abandoned when Costner heads for the jungle. The characters could have added that something deeper the movie desperately needs. Instead, director Tom Shadyac and his DoP (Dean Semler) seem obsessed with Costner's confused face and furrowed brow. If only the story was given equal attention.
Review by Louise Keller:
The media seems to have given Kevin Costner a pretty hard time since Dances With Wolves. Costner has that silent, laconic, manly charm that either does it for you Ė or not. I must admit, I rather like the strong, silent types. Some of the time. And in Dragonfly, an entertaining super-natural romance, Costner is quite at home playing a grieving, obsessed husband, whose wife has died in a remote Venezuelan bus accident. He is charming in a subdued way and we empathise with and feel for this man who is not only haunted by the memory of the love of his life, but jolted into uncertainty by the events that unfold. The character of Joe is not unlike that of Costnerís Garet Blake in Message in a Bottle, but instead of embarking on a romance, Dragonfly takes us on a different kind of journey of discovery. His emergency room doctor is not a sugar-coated character, but has some depth and we sense that here is a man who is ready to crack. When a suicide victim is brought to the emergency room, he says ĎToday we're only interested in treating people who want to live.í Ironic, because Joe doesnít seem to want to live as he buries himself in search for meaning in the super-natural signs that lead him to Venezuela. While the themes are supernatural, and there are some genuinely chilling moments. But Dragonfly works best as a romance and Costner carries the film well. Youíll probably enjoy the film best if you know very little about it and donít expect another Sixth Sense. Its heart lies in Costnerís character, while Kathy Bates appears briefly in a somewhat insignificant role but Linda Hunt does leave an impact as the mysterious nun who is hard to approach. Aussie cinematographer (who also worked on Dances With Wolves) concentrates on mood, although the scenes in Venezuela are quite spectacular. While too much may rely on the ending, Dragonfly is a surprisingly pleasurable outing. I saw the film on the long trip back from Cannes at the beginning of June, and it kept me engrossed high in skies, where itís easy to turn your screen off, if youíre not enthralled.
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CAST: Kevin Costner, Kathy Bates, Joe Morton, Ron Rifkin, Linda Hunt, Susanna Thompson, Jacob Vargas
PRODUCER: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum, Mark Johnson, Tom Shadyac
DIRECTOR: Tom Shadyac
SCRIPT: Mark Thompson, Brandon Camp, David Seltzer (story Brandon Camp, Mike Thompson)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dean Semler
EDITOR: Don Zimmerman
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Linda DeScenna
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 8, 2002