Actors and actresses frequently play against type in an attempt
to prove their range. Consider Robin Williams in “Insomnia,” Meg
Ryan in “In the Cut” and Adam Sandler in “Punch Drunk Love.” Now
jokester Ashton Kutcher gives it a shot in the dark thriller “The
Kutcher plays Evan Treborn, a – believe it or not — smart,
college student wrestling with the demons of his disturbing
childhood. A lot of bad stuff happened to him and his friends as
youngsters and when Evan’s childhood sweetheart Kayleigh (Amy
Smart) commits suicide promptly after the two reunite in their
twenties, Evan discovers that he has the power to go back in time
and change the past.
While growing up, Evan suffered mysterious blackouts during
traumatic events in his life and he finds that these moments serve
as bookmarks in time for him to revisit and alter his past. This is
all made possible due to a seemingly genetic brain abnormality Evan
inherited from his father who is locked up in a mental
However, fixing the past proves more difficult than was
expected. Once an event is altered, the lives of those involved
often change for the worse in the present. This causes Evan to
repeatedly revisit these horrible moments in a desperate attempt to
achieve the “perfect” outcome.
Having seen the trailer, I wasn’t expecting a feel-good comedy,
but the trailer in no way prepares you for what you’re really in
for. I have barley touched on the movie’s complex and grisly plot,
however the film deals with a lot of very sensitive issues and also
contains several random acts of shocking violence. I’m talking
pretty rough stuff. In other words, beware.
This is a very difficult, love-it-or-hate-it type film, and it’s
almost impossible to decide what to think of it in one viewing.
Part of me wants to say, “Don’t miss it” while the other part of me
wants to say, “Don’t bother.” Regardless of its worth, though, it
definitely could have been done better.
The film takes a surprisingly long time to set up the plot and
its confusing narrative is often more frustrating than intriguing.
Also, the characters of Kayleigh’s sadistic brother and Evan’s
gothic roommate were so ridiculously over the top that they seemed
more like cartoon characters than actual people.
2.5 out of 4 rams
“House of Sand and Fog”
Forget what you’ve seen in horror movies about haunted houses,
because the house in this movie is the real deal. Never before has
a home been the cause of such anguish and heartbreak as in this
fantastic, yet devastating film.
Ben Kingsley gives a powerhouse performance as Massoud Amir
Behrani, a former Iranian colonel who brings his family to the
United States in hopes of experiencing the American dream. Though
after it becomes increasingly hard to keep up a fa�ade of
wealth, he is forced to move his family from their posh, upscale
apartment to a more reasonably priced abode.
As the Behrani family settles in to a simple ocean-view house,
little do they know that its previous occupant, Kathy Nicolo
(Jennifer Connelly), was rather unfairly evicted due to unpaid
taxes. Behrani sees the house as an investment opportunity and
quickly begins improvements on it to increase its resale value.
Meanwhile Kathy desperately seeks help from a lawyer and a cop to
help her reclaim her home.
From here on the characters enter into an intense battle over
rightful ownership of the house. The drastic measures these
characters take are incredibly dramatic yet believable,
accumulating in a stunningly tragic final act.
“House of Sand and Fog” is the “feel bad” movie of the year, but
Kingsley, Connelly and Shohreh Aghdashloo as Behrani’s wife bear
the heavy dramatic weight with gripping performances. It is one of
the 2003’s best films and one you won’t soon, if ever, forget.
3.5 out of 4 rams