Sunday, November 20, 2005

DERAILED

Jennifer Aniston’s first post break-up movie is aptly called “Derailed” because it is indeed a disaster.

A film noir with a hidden twist somewhere in the middle (but for an anxious moviegoer like this writer, you can very clearly see it and smell it the moment Aniston’s character starts getting scarce screen time), the film trudges along like an ordinary innocent infidelity tale until a rapist barges into a hotel tryst and rapes the woman instead.

Clive Owen, who was perfect in “Closer” stars as Charles Shine, an Ad executive who, one fine day, runs into the seductive banker Lucinda Williams, played against type by the usually sweet Aniston, and they start an illicit affair that would threaten their respective marriages.

Charles saw in Lucinda a temporary escape, a diversion, from the stress in having to care for a type 1 diabetic daughter and having to cope with the loss of a big account. He starts lying to his wife and one night, in the heat of passion, invites Lucinda to a seedy hotel just outside the city not knowing that the impulsive act would send him to a nightmarish struggle against a rapist turned blackmailer.

It was a good setup. And on paper, it may even have been suspenseful. On screen, though, it’s like watching a play being performed for a hundredth time. You come to see the performers, even though, you know very well how the story ends.

And so it is the performances of the two main protagonists that help save the movie from becoming a total failure.

Owen is a complete opposite from the cunning romantic in “Closer” to a conflicted family man unable to know how to control the potentially destructive situation he has put himself in. Aniston, on the other hand, was able to perfectly blend his sweet persona with that of the femme fatale character she portrays.

Perfectly titled, “Derailed” is a disaster movie that wasn’t meant to be. I’d rather have waited for Aniston’s movie with current beau, Vince Vaughn, than to have shelled out nine bucks for this early thanksgiving turkey.

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