31 December 2006 | gradyharp
An Impressive Thriller
Relatively new cinematic team of director Ariel Vromen and writer Joshua Leibner pounce onto the scene with a surprisingly fine little film that has basically gone unnoticed. DANIKA is a story that demands the viewer's careful attention and rewards that attention with a finely wrought surprise ending. This is a tough movie to review: almost anything that is said about it diminishes the impact of a fresh look.
Danika (the superb and grossly underused actress Marisa Tomei) is a beautiful, well-dressed successful professional woman, loved by her husband Randy (Craig Bierko) and her children Kurt (Kyle Gallner), Lauren (Nicki Prian) and Brian (Ridge Canipe). Yet even from the opening scenes we can tell something is amiss: Danika 'sees' disturbing things, terrifying events and people that alter her attention to her job and her family. She visits a young psychiatrist Evelyn (Regina Hall) who becomes her confidant - the only person who accepts that Danika is witnessing disturbing sights. A mixture of critical pieces of disastrous events flash before Danika's eyes as well as flashbacks to some years back when her children were young. Danika overcompensates for her fears by being an overprotective mother, an unfortunate trait that begins to fracture her family.
The pace of the film changes to rapid fire events as the reasons for Danika's visions become clear: we finally see just what made this brilliant and strong woman the victim of a terrified and disturbed psyche and the manner in which each of the characters in the story impacts this discovery is well-illuminated. The surprise ending scene is a stunner and one that will haunt the viewer.
Marisa Tomei makes this very difficult, well-written role completely believable. She is an actress of enormous gifts. Likewise the remainder of the cast offers such fine ensemble work that credit must be given director Ariel Vromen for being a young talent on the rise. Yes, there are some portions of the film that beg credibility but then that is what delusional thinking is about. This is a tight little film that deserves attention. Grady Harp