Saturday, April 14, 2018

Movie Reviews: The Spinning Man

The Spinning Man
directed by Simon Kaijser
Temptation, frustration/so bad it makes him cry/Wet bus stop/she's waiting/his car is warm and dry
This is a competent thriller film that makes more than a few nods to Memento and Gone Girl. There was nothing that was remarkably original in this movie but it will keep you guessing which is I suppose worth something. This film might be a good example of there only being a few stories that are retold over and over again. Humans are after motivated by many of the same things no matter if we are separated by time, space, age and sex. 
The two film leads did yeoman work but I couldn't help but feel that there were a few motivations cut out of this movie that might have been better left in the finished product. The film works as an intellectual exercise in whodunnint, which is perhaps purposely ironic considering that the primary protagonist is a philosophy professor. But I didn't really have any emotional investment in whether or not this fellow was guilty of a crime.

Evan Birch (Guy Pearce) is an up and coming college philosophy professor who is trying to turn over a new leaf. To use a line from the movie Clue, you know that thing that professors aren't supposed to do with their students? Well Evan did. Having either left or been forced out of his previous position, Evan and his wife Ellen (Minnie Driver) and their young children have settled in at a university with slightly less prestige. But a job is a job. And a man is a man. Evan very soon finds himself in a flirtatious (and perhaps more?) relationship with one of his students, the almost worshipful Anna (Alexandra Shipp). Evan probably should stop making goo-goo eyes at women who are not his wife but Evan has a very flexible definition of morality and truth. And judging by his internal fantasies, Evan has a surfeit of testosterone. 

Unfortunately Evan also has memory loss issues. Unless something is critically important to him -like say women or philosophy- there's a good chance that he'll forget about it. Or at least that's what he says. Again, Evan's definition of truth is not always in line with other people's, particularly his wife's. He gets away with this for as long as he does because Evan is earnest and suave. God, is he suave. Evan's male students want to be him; his female students want to...well you know.

One person who has a very simple definition of truth, right, and wrong is Detective Robert Malloy (Pierce Brosnan). He has no interest in word games, paradoxes, or debates about the meaning of reality. All he knows is that a young girl has disappeared and Evan's vehicle was seen in the vicinity. Evan's timeline is shaky. And there are other problems. Detective Malloy is friendly at first. But he notices more than he lets on. 

The movie leaves things up in the air as long as it possibly could. I liked that. I would have liked more of Brosnan. Brosnan fit his role really well even though he kept his native Northern Irish accent for this role. He owns every scene he's in with quiet authority. 

All in all this was a good film but not something you must see. There are brief flashes of violence and erotica. Because Pearce's character is deliberately kept questionable and Brosnan's character is something of an antagonist there wasn't quite anyone for me to identify with uncritically in this film. That of course may well have been the director's intent.

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