10 June 2003 | ilmr
Intelligent story line. Great acting.
Don't rent this film if you are the kind of movie watcher/goer who doesn't like to have their brain engaged. (i.e. you only want car chases, explosions, bouncing boobies and bathroom humor.) You will be very disappointed.
I adored this movie and will purchase it as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. Why do I adore it? A few reasons.
First, it is not your run-of-the-mill story. The time travel concept is handled in a very interesting way. The "back story," the photograph, the "father's" phone number -- all keep you wondering as they do Ruby (Tomei's character). Too, I appreciated the way the viewer is never quite sure (until the end -- and I won't give it away) if Sam (D'Onofrio's character) is really telling the "truth" or really is mentally/physically ill. I had a roommate for seven years who was bi-polar and borderline psychotic. It was scary how true this movie was in terms of what happens to the people who are dealing with (at least supposedly) mentally ill individuals. The writing and Tomei's acting portrayed the enabling, co-dependant thing perfectly and how these types of relationship can spiral into dangerous places.
Secondly, I liked the fact that the whole movie (except for a few brief shots at the beach and the ending) was filmed with a hand held camera. It gave it an almost documentary-like feel. I think the intimacy of the hand held kept the viewer's focus on the characters, rather like sitting in the room and looking back and forth between them. It also underscored their emotions, thereby grounding us in their reality. It just sucks you in. Because of this I never got a sense that this movie was trying to be a SciFi flick, and I don't think it was intended to be. The jerkiness of the hand held also was a reminder, subtle or not, of the shakey ground these characters were treading both separately and together.
Third and last. D'Onofrio's performance. Outstanding. Man, he continually blows me away! His Sam had to be completely gentle and innocent on one hand, but very threatening and creepy on the other. Sam was so engaging and sweet at first but towards the middle of the film, while retaining those qualities, I was really beginning to wonder if he was a physical threat to Ruby. A fine edge to walk as an actor. And all the future and time theory babble was handled with apparent ease. I believed him. D'Onofrio has the ability to just melt into a character's skin, to completely transform himself. He gives it all.
(On that note, there have been many in these reviews who say he usually plays evil characters and are surprised by this performance. He has done a few bad guys, but it is his other roles I love best. If you enjoy his work PLEASE check out - if you have not done so already - The Whole Wide World, Household Saints, Steal This Movie, and Good Luck. All good movies made GREAT by his performances. In my opinion he's one of the best out there and very under-rated.)
The only thing I didn't like in the film was the score. It just didn't work for me.I felt it was intrusive and much too jarring. It seems like a misguided afterthought. For me, if I notice the score over the performances or it interrupts my ability to follow the story, it isn't doing it's job well.