As this film began, I thought it was going to be a post-modern Rashomon -- the same story told from multiple perspectives with the post-modern conception that truth is mutable. David Lynch's daughter at the helm only furthered my suspicions. However, the characters' stories merely serve as diving boards for the director's objective reality, so the film has no post-modern twist or any original concept driving it forward. Lynch uses her father's scare tactics, slow shots of looming devilish figures straight out of a Carl Jung handbook for "scary," but these flourishes bore with over-use.
Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond are stolid until the last act, during which they become cartoons. The antics of the police officers and most of the other characters are so outlandish that they defy credulity; even in a small, out-of-the-way town, there's no way these officers could have gotten this far shooting out random travelers' tires and sexually assaulting drivers.
Overall, Lynch proves that she's her father's daughter, but she's without his ideas, which makes her a copycat, a poor excuse for the original.
Hunting a vicious serial killer, FBI agents Hallaway (Bill Pullman) and Anderson (Julia Ormond) pitch up at a police station to question three survivors and the cops who saved them. But with the stories failing to match up, can anyone be trusted - and is anybody safe?
You can tell that Jennifer Lynch's auteur filmmaker father has had a heavy influence on his daughter. She employs a similiar eerie atmosphere; similiar characters with odd, unexplained behaviour and similar small, remote american settings like "Twin Peaks", or "Wild at Heart". Although she's still a far cry from the genius or intelligence of her father, she can be proud of what she's crafted with this one. The performances are spot on from a cast that has obviously put their trust in their director and Lynch's visual style complements the cast. It's not without it's flaws however, and sometimes verges on implausibility but I really liked it. Certainly not for all tastes but it's very effective and disturbing feeling of dread lingers long after viewing it. The fact that it's set in a deserted rural American town adds to the lonliness and fear from the characters and the audience.
In only her second film, it looks like Jennifer Lynch still has a bit to learn but with this unusual serial-killer thriller it looks like she may still have something to offer, despite living in her fathers shadow.
On a postive note the film is nicely shot and the story told in an interesting way. On the down side, most of the characters were painfully bad caricatures and the big "twist" was no surprise by the time it happened.
Julia Ormond was brilliant. and it was nice to see French Stewart (almost unrecognizable in the role) and Cheri Oteri get a chance to show their chops in something other then a sitcom.
There is a "alternate ending" in the "Extras" section of the DVD that I almost like better then the one that was used. Worth checking out.
The plot itself is nothing new. It's basically just a more violent Rashomon. The device still works well when utilized properly, and Lynch bounces us between the past and the present enough to maintain a sense of mystery, but not so much that we get annoyed. The disparities between each character's rendition of the tale and what we see actually happened enliven the story and enrich their personalities. Surveillance isn't anything special, at the end of the day, but it's a proficiently made film that elevates its generic roots. If you have a taste for the dark, unusual and moderately fucked-up, this is definitely a movie to catch.
Also, if you dislike cops, this will absolutely boil your blood, so be warned.
There are some minor plot holes, but the acting is perfect with some unforgettable performances by Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman. This is the second film by Jennifer Lynch, the first since she has reached true adulthood, and I can tell that she has certainly matured as a storyteller and not at all lost her penchant for darkness. Reacting to the film's arc, her father David Lynch described his daughter as "one sick bitch" for making this film. I don't think there's any better endorsement.
I don't want to give ANY spoilers so I won't write much more than "SEE THIS!", but would LOVE TO DISCUSS this flick's particulars with anyone.
BELOW IS A SPOILER
"That's Fucked Up" Highlight:
strangling the junkie girl and then sucking out her last breath as she asphyxiates
Anyway it features a great cast all around and is surprisingly funny-- although most of it is of a darker variety.
It was no secret that a big twist was coming at the conclusion of this film, but I easily predicted it in the first 15 minutes. Maybe my senses were to keen on searching for it, but it was a very disappointing and obvious twist.
The acting was stiff and atrocious, and the plot was rather weak. Bill Pullman, a fine actor, was really really bad here. I don't know if he didn't care or what, but his performance was laughable.
The directing and signature flare was there, which served to help the film a little. And the violent scenes were graphic and shot very well. But overall, this film is a bit of stinker. Not impressed...
although nicely acted and quite amusing it was as i predicted from the beginning its exciting and action then the middle is drawn out and the end shit!
it surprises me movies like this get the funding wen clearly they cant make much money from cinemas and dvd sales!
aste of space movie and waste of time!
Jennifer Lynch has surely inherited her father's, one of the most eccentric directors of all time, David Lynch's talents for filmmaking. 'Surveillance' is her second film, she made 'Boxing Helena' back in '93. Haven't seen it and will probably pass but I'm glad I watched this one.
It seems odd to me that, here in Finland I got to watch this on DVD but in the States it has only been screened at some festivals and will have a limited release in July. And the DVD is only on pre-order! I guess it may prove that this film is not for everyone...
I can't remember when was the last time I saw a film that surprised me as 'Surveillance' did. It starts as an usual "FBI ivestigates serial killings" and does have a pretty slow start. I almost gave up on the movie, thought that this would be a waste of time but like I said earlier, if you give the film a chance, you'll be thoroughly surprised and entertained.
'Surveillance' gives an entirely new meaning to "Protect and Serve". Good cop bad cop scenes are usually so full of clichés but in this movie, Lynch has taken the whole thing a bit further. I've never seen cops as brutal and crazy as in 'Surveillance'. Guess living and working in some yokel environment may mess up your mind...
The actors, who are mostly well known actors, perform well in their roles. Some surprising names in the cast, mainly French Stewart, who's best known for his role in '3rd Rock From the Sun' TV series. Didn't know he could act such an asshole on screen. Michael Ironside gives always credibility to any movie he's involved in. The two lead actors, Julia Ormond and Bill Pullman have both worked with David Lynch before so Jennifer probably knew what she was getting. Bill Pullman was nice to look at again. I like him in these smaller, indier films, not as a superhero "fighter pilot turned US president" as in 'ID4'.
Pretty much everything looks and feels minimalistic. The cinematography is very impressive with a rough image. The acting is solid, may go a bit over the top in the end when the plot twist occurs but it doesn't have a bad effect on the outcome of the movie. I've always been a huge fan of indie and I'd like to see more of films like this. Films that obviously have a small budget but a huge factor of entertainment.
'Surveillance' deserves a chance. If you haven't seen it or even heard of it, I recommend you to remember Jennifer Lynch and 'Surveillance'. The film may not be suitable for all but those who are tired of seeing those totally unsurprising movies, this movie is definitely for you.
"Surveillance" is all about first impressions which is important. And my first impression from this movie in its opening montage was to expect a run of the mill slasher movie and I was not that far off the mark, as like most of its ilk, a certain nasty strain of nihilism rules the day. To be fair, there are a couple of neat exchanges, like the opening one between the two FBI agents. So, you can see there is a certain intelligence at work here but it is a very condescending one. Not only does the movie think it is smarter than it actually is, but the filmmakers feel they are superior to the characters, most of whom are small town policemen who are simply drawn as one dimensional idiots.