The Weinstein brothers veer off course with Derailed
By Noah Fowle
At one time, the Weinstein brothers were the symbol of independent cinema, and could be counted on to provide entertaining movies that ventured outside the norm. But their first release since parting ways with Miramax, Derailed, is nothing more than a collection of rote clichés and prototypical characters wrapped in a violent package. It stems from a long line of love-affair thrillers that we can thank, or blame, on the success of Fatal Attraction. Each new premise promises a bold ending, but all of the work in crafting suspense is lost when the third act takes a happily-ever-after bow. Clive Owen does a valiant job trying to save the picture with an earnest performance, but he is mismatched against a hammy Vincent Cassel and Jennifer Anistons most recent attempt to defy typecasting.
The film begins on the typical American family morning. Charles Shine (Owen) helps his young, diabetes-stricken daughter, Amy, with a homework lesson at the same time as he ignores the widening gap with his wife. Its also revealed that Amys costly sickness has forced Charles from his original passion, teaching, into a corporate advertising gig. Unfortunately, neither Swedish-born director Mikael Hafstrom nor Stuart Beattie, who penned the script from the James Siegel novel, relied enough on Owens expressive face to portray his exhaustion and hopelessness. Instead they allowed lines like Amys You guys used to kiss each other before work, to slip in.
Soon Charles finds an outlet for his tedium when he meets an alluring stranger, Lucinda Harris (Anniston), on his morning commute. Precious time is wasted as the two dance around an affair while the audience practically begs for something amoral to go on just to hold their attention. Once Charles and Lucinda are comfortably groping in a hotel, a sadistic Frenchman, LaRoche (Cassel), breaks up the tryst by smacking them around and cooking up a banal extortion plot. The films little excitement finally begins as Charles struggles to protect his lie by sacrificing his pride, his daughters treatment funds, and his chiseled good looks.
In failing to provide any permanent consequences, a film like Derailed is a boring testament to the simple pleasures in life: family, a meaningful job, the occasional adulterous fling, and cold-blooded murder.