Sometimes when you suffer from insomnia you find yourself watching some right out tripe.. but I’m not a huge fan of American romances to be fair and I could see some deadly potential, but sadly this movie takes some incredible actors and kinda washes them out in a dingy tearjerker.
Peter (Liam Neeson), the tame husband of a famous shoe designer named Lisa (Laura Linney) comes to the conclusion that his stunning was wasn’t always faithful to him, so tracks down his wife’s lover and travels to Italy to confront him.
This is where I expected an Italian version of Taken (2008) to kick off, but instead it’s a muted and tame cat and mouse chase as each man presents himself as something quite different and Peter tries to befriend and interrogate the charming liar that is Ralf (Antonio Banderas) who kinda plays his kitty from from Shrek 2 (2004) as he masquerades as a chic gentleman where his real identity is far from that truth.
I was expecting a lot more from the actors here, Neeson is kinda typecast as a brutish special agent now, and in a story where his main objective is to track down his wife’s lover you’d expect some explosive violence, sharp language and deep compassion, but it was like he was mocking himself, or at least developing the character we’ve seen in so many epic action films of late. Banderas character is the most interesting, a janitor who dones on his one immaculate suit and masquerades as a man of wealth, it’s never certain if he knows/suspects who Peter is.
There is an impressive stand off between the two men, Peter bringing nothing but anger and negativity which is often softened and deflected by the mild Ralf, there are tons of flashbacks of Lisa (Laura Linney) being perceived by both men in different lights, through their encounters, imaginary scenarios and ultimately through her demise from cancer.
With frequent chess games being played, the film does try to pan out in a similar way but with Peter (Neeson) making most of the moves and pulling strings, but the shifts in time are badly clumped together, with an attempt to hit the viewer with a twist at the end but it just leaves the movie missing out part of the plot and making a muddled and confusing film.
Is knowing the truth worth living a lie.
As an adult and very sensible drama it works, but it lacks any deep emotional struggles and sexual tension, there are no thrills and it’s easy to see that the actors were in just going through the motions. The biggest failure was to not utilise the brilliant acting skills and more attention was paid to the build up to a whimper of an ending. It could have been an amazing action film, all the cast have played some very energetic roles. But this film doesn’t make a huge attempt to leap from the pages of the short story written by Bernhard Schlink, there is one great scene though, Ralf is taken by surprise by a visit by Peter in the hotel he is the concierge for, and show him some cute baby turtles, but if you’ve seen baby turtles then you don’t need to waste your time with this. If the ending was more powered, dramatic, give us someone to love or hate then it could have justified the wait but it’s so underpowered all the way though I barely noticed it finish.
R – Sleuth (1972),
5B – Liam Neeson, Antonio Banderas, Laura Linney