Wednesday, April 18, 2007


No You Can't See

If you were salivating at the prospect of Ryan Gosling and Rosamund Pike getting hot and heavy under the sheets as suggested by the trailer, well, just so you know, all those uber sexy scenes got snipped off. Not that it's the work of the local film censors, as it's passed clean without cuts here, and watching the film transition between the scenes, it's gone without a hint of a bad edit. Somehow it's good to rid of the distractions to focus on the much touted cat and mouse game between Sir Anthony Hopkins' character and Gosling's, vis-a-vis a face off between a multi-award winning actor, and a young up and coming rising star.

Anthony Hopkins' Ted Crawford seemed very much like Hannibal Lecter, no matter how anyone, even Hopkins, tries to disprove the notion. Perhaps it's after the recent dismal and disappointing Hannibal Rising, that audiences would do just anything to suspend disbelief and imagine it to be Lecter's return to the big screen done right, with that glint in the eye and the wry smile. I won't be surprised that someone in the crowd would have half expected Crawford to eat his wife after shooting her in the head. And Hopkins would have to showcase his acting chops once again, having done so with his Hannibal going up against luminaries like Judie Foster, Julianne Moore, Edward Norton, and now, Ryan Gosling.

Gosling too had his fair share of playing a character obsessed with committing the perfect murder. In 2002's Murder by Numbers, he and peer Ben Chaplin did just that, and had to contend with Sandra Bullock's detective. Here, Gosling crosses over to the DA's office, his Willy Beachum a high flying scheming legal eagle who can't wait to spread his wings and soar over to the private sector for the fatter paycheck. Given his successes and reputation for wins, he takes on the State versus Ted Crawford case, in what is believed to be a simple open-and-shut legal suit, with signed confessions and what not, only to have his arrogance serve his downfall, and his redemption at eating the humble pie. As the old Chinese proverb says, "the older ginger is hotter".

Courtroom dramas are nothing new to director Gregory Hoblit, having helmed films like Primal Fear and Hart's War. However, those who are expecting sparks to fly between defendant and prosecutor in the courtroom will be a tad disappointed. Hopkins and Gosling spend too little time together sharing the same scene and playing off each other's energies, and perhaps rightly so, otherwise everyone will be thinking it's yet another Hannibal tale. The spotlight is firmly set on Gosling, as we see him struggle against being soundly beaten by his adversary, and the fight against succumbing to temptation (OK, so he gave in and did it with his boss, but that we don't really see. So...). His Beachum is all about the seeking of redemption, in doing what's right, to try and put things right, nevermind if the result doesn't turn out the way it should be.

Rosamund Pike continues her Bond girl type role, in being the token eye candy amongst two leading men showcasing their acting chops. Her go-getting, domineering private sector lawyer-mentor-supervisor Nikki Gardner who lusts after Beachum (yeah, the editing made it seem she's the one sending the signals) contrasts with her inner needy girl who can't take no for an answer. I suppose much of any depth in her character were snipped away to the editing floor, which is a pity, as her character came across as rather inconsistent.

There are a number of themes put forth in Fracture, some of which are topical, even to our own city state. Things like the lure of the private sector and that distinct smell of money, the imminent departure of the civil servant, the true calling of the public sector etc. What I thought was intriguing enough is the entire perversion of justice, laws, and the exploitation of loopholes which Crawford milks to perfection, that technically one can really walk away from a crime if you do your sums right.

Those who are alert might find the revelation a bit wanting, and it's a full circle kinda lesson learnt about being overconfident leaning towards arrogance. It sets up the fall perfectly, but becomes anti-climatic given the dogged need for closure and doing so in too quick a time and coincidence. Then again, you might also consider that perhaps this is the most politically correct, face saving way to settle a stand off between a veteran, and a promising star.

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