Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews
- Category: Jacqueline Monahan
- Published on 23 November 2008
- Written by Jacqueline Monahan
Las Vegas Round The Clock - http://www.lasvegasroundtheclock.com
Jacqueline Monahan is an English tutor for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also a consultant for Columbia College Chicago in Adjunct Faculty Affairs
Imagine the days of your upcoming week are scooped up, thrown into a bingo cage, and called forth in a random fashion, so that your Thursday occurs before your Tuesday, and then you snap back to Sunday. You remember the days as they occur, but not the gaps in between. That is, until the missing day pops up to slowly add pieces to the puzzle. You relive certain days, do things differently with different outcomes. You slowly discover the power of manipulation.
That’s what’s happening to Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock). The suburban housewife and mother is a widow one day, a complacent, disillusioned wife the next. Informed by a police officer of her husband’s death in a car crash, Linda goes to sleep a widow and wakes up to her husband eating cereal, taking a shower, or next to her in bed. In between there are confused days of bereavement and discovery. The first half of the film is intriguing in the questions it poses. The second half is disappointing in its answers.
Her husband Jim (Julian McMahon) is a handsome businessman with a secret. His co-worker Claire (Amber Valletta) has one, too. Linda’s friend Annie, (Nia Long) serves no purpose other than to be a brief sounding board for Linda on bereavement days and look oddly at her on others.
Linda’s well-meaning mother (Kate Nelligan) is worried about her daughter’s seemingly fragile state of mind. One tempestuous day ends with Linda being forcibly committed for treatment by psychiatrist Dr. Arnold Roth (Peter Storare). So memorable was Storare as the psychopath in Fargo, that I had a hard time believing him in this role. He was, after all, the guy who stuffed his accomplice into a wood chipper. His halting manner of speech is reminiscent of the Frankenstein monster’s famous utterance, “Bread……good!” Isn’t that just who should be prescribing Lithium to our heroine?
Why do events boomerang from normal to bizarre? Why does Linda’s older daughter Bridgette have visible injuries on some days only to become suddenly unscathed on others? Clues come and go, gel and unravel. We are fascinated and interested for a while, and then left clucking our tongues in chagrin.
Linda’s search for answers takes her to Father Kennedy (Jude Ciccolella), whose surprised reaction at her visit tells us that she has long lapsed in her attendance and most likely her faith. He offers an explanation for Linda’s strange experiences by reading her examples of similar unexplained phenomena throughout the centuries. In a tone more smarmy and suggestive than scriptural, the priest reveals that these sorts of things tend to happen to the faithless. The warning here is for atheists and agnostics, who’d better watch out or the Time Warp Monster will pinball them around their own lives for not filling that collection plate every week or hitting their knees at night.
Taking the priest’s theory to heart, Linda struggles with her knowledge of future events. She knows how and where her husband will die, but can she stop it? Should she? For a while we think we know where events will lead us and there is great potential for a promising payoff. Unfortunately, when all of the clues, explanations and actions are completed, there is no great satisfaction, only the feeling of being manipulated into caring about this couple, then forgetting why.
Director Mennan Yapo is obsessed with showing us the absolute ordinariness of Linda’s life. She does laundry, hangs the wash, dusts the furniture, chauffeurs her kids around, and makes dinner. Why is all this happening to a sane, conventional wife? And she’s not even blonde.
If inconsistencies bother you, you’ll have another reason to be annoyed with how the film plays out. You may find yourself spending way too much time pondering, plot holes (the size of pot holes) to find the resolution worthwhile. You won’t be the first to feel confused at the conclusion.
There is however, a brief, poignant scene toward the end of the film, when Linda’s pretty much figured out the (un)usual path she’s on. Hubby’s still around, and she encourages the girls to hug and kiss him goodnight many more times than necessary while gazing at him with a great, knowing sadness. She makes everyone vocalize their words of love, not content to assume that it’s known. This not so subtle reminder about the fragility of existence, where it’s possible for life to be extinguished in an instant – the flick of a light switch, or perhaps the blink of an eye, is one of the film’s few well-done moments.
I was drawn into the film while it was setting up its premise, but then became more and more bewildered as it spiraled almost blindly into “huh?” territory. Unfortunately, Premonition creates more questions than it answers, and takes the audience on a multi-layered journey to nowhere in particular.
You’ll wish you could wake up a day before you saw it, with a premonition not to.