Wow, I was both horrified and mesmerized throughout this movie. I could not take my eyes off of Nicole Kidman (The Hours, Rabbit Hole), who was an outrageous southern woman named Charlotte Bless. Honestly, when you think of Nicole you think of a statuesque, porcelain skinned, reserved woman. She was exactly opposite in this thriller with her heavy makeup and tough talking. The director and writer Lee Daniels (Precious, Shadowboxer) deserves credit for getting Nicole to do some of the things she did in this film based on a true story. The tale was about Ward Jansen, played by Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe, Magic Mike), returning to his hometown in Florida to investigate the case of death row inmate Hillary Van Wetter, played by John Cusack (Martian Child, High Fidelity). With his brother Jack, played by Zac Efrom (The Lucky One, Charlie St. Cloud), Ward used Charlotte as a way to get a meeting with HIllary; since she was engaged to the inmate. Ward’s investigation would cause some dangerous repercussions that would be felt by all. Parts of the movie were highly textured, filled with intense acting and southern gothic atmosphere. But then there would be scenes that plopped down with a thud. John Cusack was unbelievable with his ugly creepiness, while Matthew let his southern drawl coat the intensity that was simmering just below his surface. Once again, Zac was the weak one of the cast. Granted he is trying his hardest to break away from his pretty boy sweetness, but casting him with much better actors only showcase his limited acting abilities. Even his unscripted dance scene in the rain with Nicole, wearing only his underpants deserved extra points; it simply was not enough to make his acting blend in with the others. The movie is worthy of seeing for Nicole’s crazy performance. She may have just acted her way to an Oscar nomination this year. Brief scenes of violence and blood.
2 2/3 stars
After the movie ended and I had to climb over the woman dabbing at her moist eyes with a wad of tissues, I was wondering who was the lucky one. Maybe she felt fortunate for seeing this movie; I know I certainly did not, I was the unlucky one. My teachers used to tell me before you give a negative comment, always start out with something positive. I liked the coming attractions. Now that I got that out of the way, let me start with the lead character Logan played by Zac Efron(17 Again, New Year’s Eve). He was so wrong for this movie and shame on the director for not pushing Zac to at least try and act in this movie. I felt he was too young and pretty while he tried to portray a three tours of duty marine. After finding a photograph of a woman, Logan felt it was a good luck charm that protected him, keeping him alive during his military stint. He made a promise if he survived the war, he would find this woman and thank her. The photo he kept close was of Beth played by Taylor Schilling (Dark Matter, Mercy). Her acting was decent, but there was absolutely no chemistry between her and Zac. Besides being passionless to the point of almost painful, this movie was predictable. Syrupy music was used throughout as we were exposed to extended shots of the sun setting or rising. I did not read the book, but I think with a different cast and director this film could have been a better movie and a more believable story.
1 3/4 stars