March 18, 2007

Movie Review: Premonition

Sandra Bullock is working her way into another genre, the romantic tragedy. Between this, and last year's (superior) The Lake House, she is becoming the premiere leading lady in these unexplainable supernatural romantic tragedies. Whether or not that is a good thing is a separate issue altogether. This newest entry is one that left me feeling conflicted. On one hand, there was plenty to like about it, but on the other, there was a whole lot that just did not make much sense.

The story centers on Linda Hanson (Bullock). She gets up in the morning, sees her husband, Jim (Julian McMahon) off to work, drops the kids off at school, and goes about the daily routine of housework. One day, a Thursday, she is visited by a representative of the Sheriff's Department who tells her that Jim was in a bad car accident which has cost him his life. This sets her on a downward spiral of shock, depression, and possible insanity as she starts to imagine that Jim is still alive, and then dead, and then alive, and then..... or is she? Of course, if you remember that the title is Premonition, so all is not quite as it seems.

The movie, as directed by Mennan Yapo, is quite difficult to follow. You really have to work at piecing everything together. Impossible? No, but requires more work than should be necessary. At times it feels as if the film was arranged in haphazard fashion, with the editors just taking whatever clips they had and splicing them together without an regard for story flow. That's a shame too, as there is much to play with inside the concept, but concept is nothing without proper execution.

Linda seems to have unglued, both mentally and physically. The news of her husband's death have sent her reeling into a mental state that is, understandably, distraught, while she simultaneously finds herself living her days out of sequence, and sometimes over again. Whether this makes it a true premonition, or something more metaphysical is not revealed, although I believe it to be something more than that. For what happens to have actually happened, it is definitely more of a case of jumping in time, something akin to The Butterfly Effect, with her actions resulting in changes to the timeline. In order for this to work, it has to be more than mere premonition.

I was quite taken with how Linda's madness took hold. From her confusion as the days jump out of order, to her increasingly erratic behavior, to the focus that comes later on. Of course, this is tempered by difficult to follow jumps, the nonsensical ways she interacts with others, and her visit to a priest which just feels completely out of place. It is clearly used to deliver some exposition that doesn't mesh to well with everything else. I did like the line used in the trailer, "If I allow him to die.... is it the same as murder?" It is an interesting idea that adds another layer to the film, although it is not taken to its potential.

Sandra Bullock does the best she can to keep the momentum moving forward, but is hampered by some poor dialog, and an editing job which leaves the performance from ever taking a real hold. The other performances are mediocre at best, with Julian McMahon having very little to do throughout the film, besides dying every other day.

As I left the theater, the film was a jumble inside my head. I loved the idea of her shock induced time traveling, I liked the idea of her piecing everything together, and I enjoyed the ending (if not the epilogue). I had a headache from trying to put the events into correct sequence, I did not care for how much of the exposition was dealt with, and I had hoped that the drama would have dug a little deeper. Also, it would have been nice had Bullock's character been a little more forward in her desire to figure out just what has happened, rather than playing defense the whole time.

Bottomline. The pacing was slow, and the flow was non-existent, but given time the story is effective. I almost like it in spite of myself, but I find I have to settle somewhere in the middle, as much as I enjoyed what it attempted to do, the execution was just terrible. Bullock is forging an interesting direction with this and The Lake House. She is a lovely presence, when given the right material, and this almost does it.

Mildly Recommended.


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