In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb wildlife

Wildlife

One never senses judgment from Dano, Kazan, Gyllenhaal, or Mulligan—they recognize that there’s beauty even in the mistakes we make in life. It’s what makes…

Thumb halloween poster

Halloween

Do you know the biggest sin of the new Halloween? It’s just not scary. And that’s one thing you could never say about the original.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Shattered

  |  

I have not read the novel by Richard Neely that inspired “Shattered,” but now, having seen the movie, I feel like I need to.

Perhaps it would shed more light on the state of mind of Judith Merrick, the character played by Greta Scacchi in the film, who commits a series of acts so implausible, and so bewildering, that I would do anything to eavesdrop on her stream of consciousness.

In many thrillers there are secrets that the conscientious critic must not reveal, lest he spoil the audience’s fun. This entire movie is nothing but one vast secret that shouldn’t be revealed. I tried writing a paragraph in which I would summarize the “hook” - the first five minutes of the movie, and I found I couldn’t even do that without fudging. Almost nothing can be said about this film that would not eventually turn out to be a distortion of the plot.

Advertisement

So let me just tell you some things that may or may not be true. One New Year’s Eve, while speeding home on a twisting mountain road after a party, a couple is nearly killed when their car flies off the road and tumbles down a steep embankment. The wife (Greta Scacchi) is thrown free, and escapes with some bad bruises. But the hospital informs her that her husband (played by Tom Berenger) is critically injured and in a deep coma.

Eventually he does live, and after extensive plastic surgery he even stops looking like Frankenstein’s monster. But he has selective amnesia. “You can remember who’s president,” Scacchi explains to him, “but nothing about your family.” Sort of like being on the White House staff. Even though he can’t remember Scacchi, he falls in love with her all over again, especially after she unbuttons her blouse (everyone in this film must have seen “Regarding Henry”).

There are, however, many clues indicating that all is not well. Such as: a roll of photographs hidden in the tobacco canister.

The warnings of the family’s best friend (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer). The discoveries of a colorful private eye (Bob Hoskins). The testimony of the manager of the local hotel where everyone goes to commit adultery. And, of course, those troublesome nightmare memories from the night of the accident, involving the abandoned ship down by the old marina.

There is no possible explanation that will tie everything together - and if you don’t believe me, see the movie. The key to the mysteries, when it comes, is not only utterly, inconceivably implausible, but raises so many questions that the movie really could benefit from another 30 minutes or so, during which the Scacchi character could deliver a helpful explanatory monologue straight into the lens.

And yet “Shattered” has its qualities, among them the dogged persistence of the Bob Hoskins character (whose explanation for still being alive at the end of the film is a howler). Wolfgang Petersen’s direction is shadowy and portentious, and filled with omens, and his screenplay is too clever by half, which is always sort of fun. The movie is finally so ridiculous it cannot be taken seriously as a thriller or anything else, but there are moments that work, and you’ll love the look on the hero’s face when he discovers the identity of the dead body.

Advertisement

Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Netflix’s Terrifying, Moving The Haunting of Hill House is Essential Viewing

A review of Mike Flanagan's new horror series based on the Shirley Jackson novel, The Haunting of Hill House.

Always Leave 'Em Laughing: Peter Bogdanovich on Buster Keaton, superheroes, television, and the effect of time on movies

Peter Bogdanovich, film historian and filmmaker, talks about Buster Keaton, the subject of his new documentary.

"It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" Gets the Deluxe Treatment from Criterion

An epic essay on an epic comedy of the 1960s, now given deluxe treatment on Blu-ray and DVD by Criterion.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus