10 August 2009 | Chris Knipp
There is little to add to the other comments about this lengthy bore with its handsome images of an erupting volcano and lovely villas, its bad continuity, lack of chemistry between MacDowell and Keitel, generally wooden or uncoordinated acting, meandering, incomprehensible plot with an illogical set up (FBI man takes wife and kid to a dangerous assignment) and its preposterously heroic 11-year-old boy (let's not be too hard on newcomer Mattia De Martino: he does his best to impersonate a tough, angry kid; his acting is more convincing than Keitel's). I do want to mention something that drew me to rent the DVD besides the combination of Keitel, Harry Dean, and Asia Argento, and the fact that Pradal's first (and previous) film, 'Marie baie des anges' (1997) is haunting and evocative and original and 'stunningly beautiful' (Stephen Holden, NYTimes). This is the fact that Tonino Benacquista worked on the screenplay. Benaquista has been a fantastic collaborator with Jacques Audiard on 'Sur mes lèvres' ('Read My Lips') and 'De battre mon coeur s'est arreté' ('The Beat My Heart Skipped'). Well, Benacquista's talents did not help here any more than anybody else's. His participation may have been limited. He is more permanently listed on Pradal's subsequent (2006) 'Un crime'('A Crime'), which has gotten higher marks, and I'm curious to see that. Apparently it has just come out in a US DVD (July 2009) so it will eventually be available for rental. I haven't given up, because 'Marie baie des anges' is an experience one can go back to again and again. If Pradal could make that, he ought to be able to make another good film.