Posted on 1/11/07 07:18 AM
Well I wouldn't call it a disappointment since I wasn't expecting a ton, but it does have a lot to offer, and a lot that doesn't deliver. The screenplay doesn't seem to know what genre it's in and what the center of it's story is. Is it the two couples and the adultery? Or is it about mass hysteria about a pedophile in the neighborhood? Or is it about the pedophile himself? Unfortunately it doesn't really know. The film could have been an impressive chaacter study surrounding suburban boredom and adultery but because of it's other aspects it's also not devloped fully. The pedophile angle also could have been it's own movie, but he just isn't real. Jackie Earle Haley is one of the creepest looking people you're going to see, why not cast him as a sex offender, and then almost make the character sympathetic only to tear that down with some of the things that happen, but then try to make the audience feel bad for him at the end. He's been getting raves lately, it's a fairly strong performance to be sure, but the screenplay doesn't aid it at all. As for the Kate Winslet storyline, of what is developed it's quite good, her performance is great as can be expected, they even almost manage to make her seem not so beautiful, but not quite. The problem is that the spouse of each character (Patrick Wilson as the lover) is not developed enough for it to fully work, you don't see her husband until half an hour into the film and then not again for literally an hour later, and that's the last you see of him, doesn't help for tension. While Wilson's wife is more developed (played fairly well by Jennifer Connelly) but not enough either, and about half way through the film there's a single scene that's clearly designed to make the audience feel bad for her, but it's too late by then. But there is one individual brilliant shot in the film where both couples are eating dinner together and by what Winslet's character is saying Connelly's begins to suspect, Winslet is in the forground and Connelly isn't even in focus but the tension is so palpable.
Overall it just doesn't add up, this could have been split up and been two better movies, but there wasn't enough development anywhere which is unfortunate, also there is a very intermitently employed random narration, the voice is bad and the voice over itself is just poorly written, third person narrators work in novels, not films, also there are such long stretches in the film that you forget about it, so when it comes back it's jarring. In fact when it randomly comes back in to describe the football game scene it sounds like a 50's government "educational" propaganda film.