Tuesday, 17 February 2009


James Mangold is one of the newer Hollywood directors who hovers on the edge of my consciousness with a little flashing light over his head that says "interesting" without his films ever being 100 % satsfying. So it is with IDENTITY which was released in 2003 to, generally, good reviews which lumped it in with the slasher genre but praised it for being superior. There is actually much more going on here. The film has a sort of framing story featuring Alfred Molina as a psychiatrist which gives the film a cute psychological back story that I found both intrusive and as unnecessary as the much criticised epilogue to the 1956 THE BAD SEED. If it works for you that is fine but I was having too much fun with the main section of the film and was quiite happy to take it at face value. A stormy, rain swept night and ten travellers, for various reasons, find themselves marooned at an out of the way motel complex. Attempts to get help soon lead to the discovery that the bridge is out, the road has been washed away and the phones are all down...and there is a homicidal maniac on the loose. No folks, we are not back in a 1930's old dark house thriller but that is the name of the game. One by one the motel guests are being sliced and diced. Red herrings and clues abound and at one point somebody actually utters the classic line (raising a cheer from me) of "Look, we'll just all stay together" which has been ignored by professional victims for decades. There's a head in the tumble drier and you have to go and look for something in your room, on your own, yeah, sure you do. Without ever quite spoofing the genre, Mangold, plays all the cliches and openly lets us know that he knows that we know by pointedly invoking references to THE OLD DARK HOUSE, PSYCHO, HALLOWEEN and, of course, Agatha Christie's TEN LITTLE INDIANS. The revelation of the killer is totally unbelievable but excused by that damed framing plot....but, you know what ? I'd have been just as happy to laugh it all off without the pychological mumbo jumbo. After all if I believe that my lawn can kill me when Night Shyamalan tells me, I'm game fopr almost anything. A superior cast led by Ray Liotta, John Cusack, Amanda Peet, Jake Busey and Rebecca De Mornay play without a hint of send up. Have fun. Rating ***

1 comment:

Cerpts said...

This has nothing to do with your post but CONGRATULATIONS! You've won an award, Weaverman!