20 ago. 2010

My Review: Reservation Road (5/10)

“To find the truth, you have to find who's hiding it”

Reservation Road is one of the last three movie`s Joaquin Phoenix acted in before announcing his retirement from acting (which I still don`t know if I believe or if it`s just a publicity stunt for the documentary that Casey Affleck is directing about his life as a musician, I`m Still Here). It is a pity such a talented actor wasn`t able to leave the circus with a bang, although we have Gladiator and Walk the Line to remember him by. In Reservation Road he gives a pretty decent performance along with the rest of the cast, but the material they had to work with was just not good enough. Much more could have been done with such a talented cast considering Mark Ruffalo and Jennifer Connelly were also in this film. The film is based on John Burnham Schwartz`s novel, who co-wrote the screenplay along with director Terry George. George has received two Oscar nominations in the past for writing (In the Name of the Father and Hotel Rwanda), but this time the writing just didn`t translate right to the big screen. There were too many coincidences that didn`t seem very believable and the movie felt really long considering we were all expecting how the movie was going to end. It was as if they stretched the film way too much, it began as a sad drama focusing on the guilt and mourning of the characters and by the end it tried to be a thriller with unrealistic situations and coincidences. It began with great promise, but the movie began to lose itself which is a pity because the cast was excellent.

The movie opens with two parallel stories; first we are introduced to the Learner family who are attending their son`s concert. Josh (Sean Curley) plays the cello and his proud parents Ethan (Joaquin Phoenix), a college professor, and Grace (Jennifer Connelly) are listening attentively. Their daughter Emma (Elle Fanning, Dakota`s younger sister) is also at the recital and after it`s over the family begins to head back home. At the same time, Dwight (Mark Ruffalo) is attending a baseball game with his son Lucas (Eddie Alderson). They are both Red Sox fans and the game has gone to extra innings. Dwight`s ex-wife, Ruth (Mira Sorvino), is worried that they are taking so long and calls Dwight telling them it is time he brings her son back home. After the game Dwight and his son head back home, but something happens that will change both families life`s forever. The Learner`s stop at a gas station in Reservation Road because Emma has to go the bathroom and while they are waiting, Josh gets out of the car and is unexpectedly hit by an SUV and killed. The driver happens to be Dwight who realizes what has happened but is so scared that he drives on with his son Lucas who never realizes what happened. The movie develops from this terrible accident where Ethan and Grace cope differently with their son`s death, while Dwight is haunted by guilt and considering whether or not he should turn himself in to the police.

The plot seems interesting and the movie could have been great considering the cast was very talented and they all did an excellent job at transmitting their emotions. The characters were interesting, but the problem I had with the movie was that there were too many coincidences. First of all Dwight`s ex wife was Josh`s music teacher, Josh and Lucas went to the same school together, and when Ethan hires lawyers to help find the hit and run driver he just happens to hire the firm for which Dwight works for and he is assigned the case. The film really loses itself after awhile when it tries to swift from being a dramatic character study to a thriller. It should have stuck with focusing on the emotional aspect that each character had to deal with considering that the actors were doing just fine with that. Reservation Road ends up being a forgettable film and just another one that looked a lot better in the trailers. I really hope Joaquin Phoenix decides to return to doing what he does best which is making movies. Mark Ruffalo is always a reliable actor and he does a great job in this film. I would only recommend this movie to those of you who are fans of these actors because they show a small glimpse of their great talent in this film, although it is a pity that the movie switched gears in the second half. Reservation Road is a forgettable movie.

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