Dr Joe Darrow’s (Kevin Costner) life is shattered when his beautiful pediatrician wife dies in a tragic bus accident on a mission of mercy in the jungles of South America. Joe buries himself in his work at the hospital, but mysterious events, including communications from her former patients who survive near-death experiences and moving objects, make him believe that his wife is trying to contact him from beyond.
Review by Louise Keller:
Director Tom Shadyac begins his commentary by alerting us to the fact that he will be revealing the ending, as it is impossible for him to talk about the film without doing so. So he suggests that the commentary is left until we have all seen the film, so as not to spoil the plot elements. But he points out that the most important thing, are the clues that we are given throughout the film, and on second viewing it is interesting to make note of these. Dragonfly is Shadyac’s first drama, after a string of comedies such as Patch Adams, Liar Liar, The Nutty Professor and Ace Venture Pet Detective.
Dragonfly is an entertaining super-natural romance, and Kevin Costner seems 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 Costner’s 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 ‘Today we're only interested in treating people who want to live.’ Ironic, because Joe doesn’t 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.
You’ll probably enjoy the film best if you know very little about it and don’t expect another Sixth Sense. Its heart lies in Costner’s 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.
There are eight deleted scenes – there’s a lovely one called ‘Awakened by Dragonflies’ – but there would be more significance if there were commentary or information about context and why they were deleted. There’s a segment devoted to author Betty Eadie’s near death experience, when she clinically died following an operation. The Spotlight on location segment satisfies with brief interviews with cast and crew, with comments. As the writer says – people relate to flawed human beings. So true.
Published January 16, 2003
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DRAGONFLY: DVD (M15+)
CAST: Kevin Costner, Kathy Bates, Joe Morton, Ron Rifkin, Linda Hunt, Susanna Thompson, Jacob Vargas
DIRECTOR: Tom Shadyac
RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes
PRESENTATION: 16 X 9; dual laytered format
SPECIAL FEATURES: Spotlight on Location; Deleted Scenes; Betty Eadie Segment; Audio Commentary by Tom Shadyac
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: January 8, 2003