Saturday, February 20, 2016
Directed By: Steve Shill
Written By: David Loughery
Cinematography By: Ken Seng
Editor: Paul Seydor
Cast: Beyonce Knowles, Idris Elba, Ali Larter, Jerry O’Connell, Christine Lahti, Scout Taylor-Compton, Bruce McGill
Derek Charles is a hard working man, employed as a asset manager in a private company. He is very happy with his beautiful wife, Sharon, and only son, and because of his hard work he just got a huge promotion. But suddenly he gets a temporary worker who is both attractive and smart, and Derek is understandably impressed with her and also finds himself physically drawn to her. However, this new girl is desperate to get close to him - at any cost
This film seems like filler for the scene that you actually came for that was highlighted in the trailer.
The catfight between Ali Lartrer and Beyoncé. That ends up not even being as epic as you hope. As throughout the film it just seems to build and build to the scene then when it happens it is rather tame. It is just good enough. Though truly showcases the average was of this film.
As what comes before it is filler, but this filler tries to be more and more scintillating as it can be. At least for a film rated PG-13. Which this film seems to really test the limits of, as it desperately tries to be a fatal attraction type thriller. It has plenty of scenes of seduction. Even though there is no sex and Ali Larter is in revealing outfits and lingerie a few times.
According to the first draft of the script, the scene where Lisa seduces Derek in his car was originally supposed to be more sexually revealing than what was filmed.
A passionate sex scene with Derek and Sharon was written in the original script, but was never filmed. Though with Beyonce cast as Sharon I can see them wanting to keep the role more tame and clean.
Though what makes it come off as weak or maybe not as involving as it's inspiration is that. For one thing yes, Idris Elba's character does flirt a little and kisses her once which he feels immediately guilty over, but in this film or at least in Larter's characters mind. That is enough that he really secretly wants her and wants to leave his wife for her. So anything after this she feels justified in. Which really makes no sense. Except it makes it easier for the filmmakers to just make her crazy. Like she lived a perfectly fine life before but this moment and obsession finally pushed her over the line to crazy or she always had problems but now they are just coming out.
Which also serves the film's second problem. Now Ali Larter is attractive and everyone has their preference, but she feels no match for the beauty of Beyoncé and rather makes it feel like instead of getting a star or a bombshell. It was ok to get any old Caucasian blonde woman and she would automatically be equal In beauty to the gorgeous Beyoncé. I bring this up because quite frankly even though the film never says it. This film is marketed on race. A successful black man with a black once and family successful in what looks like a white only office. Then this white woman comes onto him repeatedly and he turns her down and she becomes obsessed with him. Spreading lies about him and trying to destroy his life and family. Like after all this he will then Settle for her to make it stop.
This film was one of the first leading men roles for Idris Elba at least in films where he wasn't another cast member in an action franchise. After LL Cool J dropped out of the role. Even though the story starts with him. The true star is Beyoncé, though strangely for the most part she is given nothing too much to do until the second half of the film. Where she seems to take over. Especially in more emotional scenes. While she isn't the greatest actress with each role she gets a little better. Here it's not like she has the best material but she does what she can with the role. Downplaying herself more and especially downplaying her image. Which only helps this looks like a movie star role. Which is where the film is more filler and fluffed for a star. More or less built around them to show range or what people really like about them. Be it looks, comedic timing, sense of humor, dramatic acting.
With this film it proves that she is like us all, we all have growing to do. This we see in her performance and material, but at least she slowly got to her starring roles by slowly taking more supporting roles. To hone her craft. Just like her music career. Learning the business and slowly making her ascension to becoming more pronounced and the solo star. As even now I don't believe she would take this role or approve of this material. So it's a nice look back to when she was really taking her power to be a star. Until her best role so far in CADILLAC RECORDS playing Etta James
The film also feels rather marketed and aimed at black females In particular. Who might be tired of seeing successful black men in the media and it seems life. Going more towards Interracial relationships once they are successful as it seems to be natural or a part of it. So this film helps direct that anger. As no one will feel sympathetic towards Larter's character at all. Plus you get to see Beyoncé best her down for even attempting it. Her husband gets enough punishment. So that he won't make the mistake again and truly show how much he loves her.
An interracial aspect of the film was originally planned according to the director in an interview. However, this idea was scrapped, presumably because of similarities to screenwriter David Loughery 's previous film, LAKEVIEW TERRACE. Which would have been more powerful if acknowledged but to a degree making not such a big deal of it. Gone only so far for diversity. Though it looks like it is afraid to take on a subject head on. Then again as this is kind of a runoff the mill thriller. Maybe that was a bit too serious for the film
Even as the film tries to produce a bias by always it seems trying to portray and shoot actress Ali Larter more favorably and sexily. While shooting Beyoncé more plain and frumpy. She still comes off more appealing and sexy. It's like offering up a fine modern finding experience at an exclusive resterant versus
Having a more doe to earth home Cooked meal. One is good at the time but find yourself wanting more and not completely satisfied but because of the money you spent and more out of reputation and what others might think. You tell yourself it was fine. Where as with home cooked you are full. You want more but find yourself so satisfied. That you still will always want more of the same. Sure is not excite to everyone else but you are happy.
Not to demean these ladies into food items be judge heir desirably as such, just trying to show the difference in presentation.
Though the film tries to pack tension, there truly is no titilation or even any real exploitation to keep the pot boiling for this film. Which then makes everything in the film shiny, but rather bland. With hints of flavor that never last long enough.
This feels like the beginning of when it seems like every fall. Right after summer there is a weekend of African American themed movies that is either a thriller or sometimes romance. That feels like it was quickly put together or rushed. That seems more a blockbuster style movie rather than thought out or having any real depth. Movies like NO GOOD DEED that seem more marketed to win the box office weekend for a week or two. He. Become high in demand on VOD, Then Probably quickly forgotten
This is a movie that promises thrills and tries to up the ante with each new scene, but seems to lack the necessary tension. So that it has the same effect as a horror movie with fake scares.
I also find it interesting as some audiences could easily see this film as a metaphor. For The powers that be assault on a happy successful middle class black family and a successful black man. Now this could have been an all black movie, but by adding Ali Larter a Caucasian actress the film is more aiming for a certain respectability and more crossover appeal. Though it also adds in an aspect of racial undertones and a social experiment. That the film doesn't play up and I wonder if the filmmakers were trying to keep it simple or were hoping for a bit of subtlety.
Either way the film is good for passing time entertainment. It's nothing you would call a classic. More like a late night guilty pleasure.
The film ends up getting served up in a nice neat looking package.