18 December 2002 | Victor Field
The next time Jessica comes to England, I hope she has a better reason.
Alba fans be warned: This review contains the odd spoiler.
Jessica, Jessica, Jessica... (sigh). Those almond-shaped eyes, pillowy lips, wavy dark hair, strokeable olive skin, utterly perfect body, cute speaking voice, tight flawless behind... Like Cindy Crawford, Rosanna Arquette and Mariah Carey, Jessica Alba is one of those women who occupies a very special place in my affections. If only "Paranoid" was as appealing as she is.
Made by Sky Pictures (and sad proof that Sky is not the HBO of Britain), John Duigan's thrill-less thriller casts the gorgeous and sexy Jessica as an American model doing some work in London, who's plagued by a stalker, on good terms with her ex, and is persuaded to spend some time at a friend's house in the country, only to find that said house is seemingly entirely populated by weirdos (Iain Glen, Ewen Bremner, Jeanne Tripplehorn etc). The only interesting aspect of the movie not related to Miss Alba's charms is that our heroine is perpetually surrounded by weirdos even when she doesn't know it.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
Her flat in London is spied on by a neighbour (Kevin Whately) who, though basically a stalker (he found her address book and thus started to be fascinated by her), is ultimately the one who rescues her from death in the end. Unfortunately they never meet, thereby denying us the closest thing we'll get to a "Dark Angel"/"Inspector Morse" crossover. But the last scene (revealing the identity of the phantom phone caller) indicates the poor girl still has her share of creeps in her life, without even knowing it.
WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REVIEW, STILL IN PROGRESS.
"Paranoid" does occasionally successfully conjure up an edgy, pervy atmosphere, and the cast does try their best, but the low budget and the off-key writing and directing from Duigan (on unfamiliar territory here, literally because he's Australian and figuratively considering his far superior dramas "The Year My Voice Broke," "Flirting" and "Sirens") defuse any impact. Jessica's performance is even more sullen and depressed than her character is supposed to be... and her lack of energy is certainly shared by the viewer. (Why she and Jeanne Tripplehorn were in this movie is beyond me. In fact, why ANYONE was in it is beyond me.) Unexciting and occasionally unpleasant, anti-Murdoch advocates ("See the kind of tosh Rupert puts out?"), Kevin Whately devotees and die-hard Alba fans are the only ones who need apply.
By the way, note the mocked-up "FHM" cover that she appears on at one point. Jessica has never done the famed lad mag in real life, an oversight I demand be corrected forthwith.