It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Yes, I take notes during the movies. I can't always read them, but I persist in hoping that I can. During a movie like "House of D," I jot down words I think might be useful in the review. Peering now at my 3x5 cards, I read sappy, inane, cornball, shameless and, my favorite, doofusoid. I sigh. The film has not even inspired interesting adjectives, except for the one I made up myself. I have been reading Dr. Johnson's invaluable Dictionary of the English Language, and propose for the next edition: doofusoid, adj., possessing the qualities of a doofus; sappy, inane, cornball, shameless. "The plot is composed of doofusoid elements."
You know a movie is not working for you when you sit in the dark inventing new words. "House of D" is the kind of movie that particularly makes me cringe, because it has such a shameless desire to please; like Uriah Heep, it bows and scrapes and wipes its sweaty palm on its trouser leg, and also like Uriah Heep, it privately thinks it is superior.
I make free with a reference to Uriah Heep because I assume if you got past Dr. Johnson and did not turn back, Uriah Heep will be like an old friend. You may be asking yourself, however, why I am engaging in word play, and the answer is: I am trying to entertain myself before I must get down to the dreary business of this review. Think of me as switching off my iPod just before going into traffic court. So. "House of D." Written and directed by David Duchovny, who I am quite sure created it with all of the sincerity at his command, and believed in it so earnestly that it did not occur to him that no one else would believe in it at all. It opens in Paris with an artist (Duchovny) who feels he must return to the Greenwich Village of his youth, there to revisit the scenes and people who were responsible, I guess, for him becoming an artist in Paris, so maybe a thank-you card would have done.
But, no, we return to Greenwich Village in 1973, soon concluding Duchovny would more wisely have returned to the Greenwich Village of 1873, in which the cliches of Victorian fiction, while just as agonizing, would at least not have been dated. We meet the hero's younger self, Tommy (Anton Yelchin). Tommy lives with his mother, Mrs. Warshaw (Tea Leoni), who sits at the kitchen table smoking and agonizing and smoking and agonizing. (Spoiler warning!) She seems deeply depressed, and although Tommy carefully counts the remaining pills in her medicine cabinet to be sure his mother is still alive, she nevertheless takes an overdose and, so help me, goes into what the doctor tells Tommy is a "persistent vegetative state." How could Duchovny have guessed when he was writing his movie that such a line, of all lines, would get a laugh?