May 25, 2013

Fear X

Nicolas Winding Refn, 2003


          Harry Cain (John Turturro) is a passive mall security guard who is suffering through the loss of his wife, who was murdered in the parking garage of the very mall he is employed at. When he returns home from his security shift, he spends his lonely nights scouring through hours of mall surveillance videos trying to find any clue that may lead him to the person responsible.
          Refn's films are usually a feast for the eyes, but this one is a feast for the eyelids. It's stripped of his common qualities: avant-garde structure, mysterious story-line, pronounced musical score and stylistic visual elements. Instead, this film is audibly bleak, intellectually dull, scenically bleak, and visually empty. It almost feels as if it would better be served as a short rather than a feature film. Refn teases you with a couple of throwaway visualizations that end up looking like primitive circa-1990 lava lamp screen-savers and aren't backed by story. I will always welcome dream sequences with Refn, but in Fear X they just didn't fit in well. Scenically, the film has the same aesthetics as Fargo without any of the flavor. The mediocre writing is evident, and seen early. The story moves at a snail's pace in the beginning, teasing you with build-up of tension in one particular scene (neighbor's house), and never really picks itself up. John Turturro, who is always impressive, feels one-dimensional. It's hard to buy the heavy heart when a cop is questioning the depths of his love for his late wife and he just stares into space without getting on the defensive. Sure, he's a pacifist  I get it. But he seemed to be on the edge at that very moment. Refn got Larry Smith (The Shining) on board for photography, Turturro as the lead (who SHOULD have pulled some serious weight, right?)...momentum should have been created, but it just wasn't. I wonder if this was the result that Refn saw prior to filming. For some reason I don't think so.

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