Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Film Review: Jinx Sister

A very wise friend of mine once claimed that he was able to tell if a movie was going to be bad or good from the very first shot. I don't have this skill. However, my feeling was off on this film from the very first shot: This film had a statement to make.

However, throughout the 101 minute running time, I didn't see this. What I saw was a film that tried to hard to say -something- but didn't know what it wanted to say, and wrapped itself up in too many cliches.

For me, this film fails at the first hurdle: The writing. It simply isn't a well-written film. There is dialogue that is worth cringing at, "You're a weird chick." "People who get close to me have a habit of dying." and exchanges that ring as either false or overused in previous films.

The narrative as a whole lacks direction as well, the love story appears to be thrown in just for the sake of it and to fill time; and the family drama is awkwardly revealed through the use of the Exposition Fairy. It's way too forward and far too clunkily delivered to have any real impact. A late game reveal should have a larger impact than it actually does, but the way it comes about and the way it's reacted to by the characters reeks of the likes of soap opera.

Another late-game act didn't shock me at all; some clunky foreshadowing made it so the turn didn't have any real impact for it, not to mention some awkward and frankly unnecessary crosscutting between scenes of a woman giving birth and scenes of a woman being a drunken mess.

I also couldn't get into the characters, least of all Laura, the lead. The character is a cliche to begin with, 'damaged woman who lies to herself and deals with it through alcohol'. What's worse is that she's forced through the hoops set out for her by the script, like not getting close to anybody and suddenly turning on characters in the script since it makes her seem edgy and different. It's perfectly fine to make a character unlikeable, see Margot at the Wedding and Monster, but when your character is uninteresting and her arc unbelievable, then that is a true flaw in the filmmaking.

Sadly, the male characters were also drastically underwritten. They had no arc of their own and seemed, honestly, like pushovers and afterthoughts. The characters were there because they had to be, not because they contributed anything significant to the story.

As for performances, they're mostly unremarkable. Sara Wiseman is perhaps the most notable, if only for her uneven accent. I understand that the character is meant to be an ex-pat Kiwi who has lived in Los Angeles for a while, but that's not excuse for her accent to not even be reminiscent of a Californian accent, and if anything it sounds like it should be located vaguely around the southern part of the U.SA. That is, when it's not disappearing back into a Kiwi accent. Other than this uneven accent work, I found her work as an actress to be quite passable, if shoehorned into the common tropes of the damaged woman.

The movie was shot in HD, but I didn't count this against the film. It is a well-shot film, with not much remarkable, but it's framed perfectly competently. The only mark I can possibly count against it is the inclusion of a slow motion part of Laura riding around on a amusement park ride in slow-motion for apparently no reason. Oh, no doubt, it looks good. But it contributes absolutely nothing to the film. I also question the choice to shoot a few scenes slightly out of photo?

The best thing about this film and the only thing I truly loved was the score by Brigid Ursula Bisley; I found it to be evocative and set the atmosphere perfectly. A truly lovely composition.

This film had an interesting conceit potentially, but some clunky writing and zero character development doomed the picture to not even a soap opera level of quality. D.

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