Ben's Review of Kalifornia
In a lot of ways, Dominic Sena's "Kalifornia" is a slick, well-directed social commentary on the world of violence. It is this notion that keeps the film relevant and entertaining throughout its duration. However, there are several points in the film where chances to expand upon characters simply do not happen. The film's primary characters are separated into two couples; with Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis representing one and David Duchovny and Michelle Forbes representing the other. Coincidentally, the performances in terms of quality are separated just as distinctly. Pitt and Lewis elevate the material of the film's screenplay, while Duchovny and Forbes prevent it from breaking the boundaries of linearity. This blatant rift in acting causes problems over the course of the picture. The relationships between characters don't seem to be substantial or human enough to create any lasting memories after the movie comes to an end. That being said, the film itself is entertaining to watch, but any possibility of it having lasting effects on its audience are slim to say the least.
Michelle Forbes plays Carrie Luaghlin, a photographer whose simply looking for a fresh start in California to expand upon her career. Brian Kessler, played by Duchovny is her boyfriend. Together, they decide that a fresh start would be wise, but they need two more people to cover the cost of travelling. They meet Early Grayce and Adele Corners, two seemingly uneducated individuals who look harmless to the naked eye. However, Grayce and Corners are criminals looking to get out of town before someone finds out. Over the course of their journey, each individual begins to realize the identity of the other, forming situations that will test their limits; and their lives.
The concept for the film seems unique; however their are elements that dwindle the originality. David Duchovny's performance is seemingly indistinguishable from his "X-Files" routine. He seems to be playing the same character in a different role. This obvious lack of effort limits the amount of seriousness that the film has to offer. While Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis give excellent performances that represent their characters perfectly, David Duchovny acts as if he is coming off the set of his famous television program and not taking the material to heart. This limits the amount of acting that Michelle Forbes is able to do, as most of her screen time is shared with Duchovny. The result is bad performances by both actors. Sequences that have Pitt and Lewis are well-done and well directed, while scenes with Duchovny and Forbes are sub-par and run of the mill.
The visual style of "Kalifornia" seems to be strictly for its time. The cinematography makes it apparent that the film's director is also a music video director. The eye-candy aspects of the films aesthetic approach reflect that of MTV videos from the 90's. This yet again, makes the films content seem a little less serious.
"Kalifornia" moves in stimulating fashion. Many aspects of the film are entertaining and fun to watch. Brad Pitt's showmanship is of his true nature; having the ability to lead the audience and keep them attentive. Julliete Lewis gives a great performance that conveys a prelude to her acting in "Natural Born Killers." David Duchovny's lack of inspiration not only effects his acting, but Michelle Forbes' as well. The cheesy music video cinematography make the movie come off as pretty tacky and silly. These technical issues and misfires continue systematically throughout the movie, and all the audience can do is sit back while a potential classic transforms into pop-culture conventionality.