Film I took Wes Craven's Red Eye with low expectations (thriller set on a plane - what again?) but by the end of the journey I was deeply impressed. Rachel McAdams plays a hotel clerk flying home late to see her dad when she meets a handsome stranger who may not be all he seems. Much of the movie is spent on that plane, in the very small space any of us in the real world inhabit between our seat and loo, jeopardy created through the words and actions of a single aggressor and the information he chooses to reveal. Things are less effective when we leave the confines of the plane to show the wider consequences - a less Hollywood approach would have been to keep the action on board, with the results left to the viewers imagination. What sells the story though are the performances. McAdams gives an impressively layered performance for the material, able to hit comic and tragic beats with equal ability. The film really works because of her chemistry with Cillian Murphy who reminds me of a young Robert Mitchum, the menace being that he's not showing you what he's really capable of.


  1. Anonymous6:42 pm

    I really enjoyed Red Eye, and as you say a lot of the reason the film works is Rachel McAdams' performance: she was utterly believable throughout, even when she turned into Action Woman at the airport. I liked her a lot in Wedding Crashers, but that was a simple "nice girl" role that any up-and-coming actress could have handled. Put it this way: I was so impressed by what I've seen of McAdams that I'm thinking of seeking out The Notebook, which really isn't my sort of film at all.

    I did think that Red Eye lost something in the last twenty minutes or so; during the scenes in the house I felt I was back watching Scream at times, what with the young woman somehow evading her attacker again and again as they made their way through the house. Having said that, Wes Craven is sufficiently good at that sort of thing that I was happy enough to see the whole thing play out as it did. (And to see the entirely predictable but nevertheless funny coda where Lisa backed her assistant in the face of some rather ... demanding ... hotel guests.)

  2. If I did have a problem with the ending (and this is a MASSIVE spoiler so if you haven't seen the film and you're reading this look away now)

    (scroll down)

    the father saves the day. It seemed a shame after a film which largely champions female empowerment that in the end she was placed in a generally weakened position only to be saved by the much older man (with apologies to Brian Cox). Although I'm not entirely convinced that their wasn't an excised sub-plot about the Cox character -- it's odd that the actor would sign up if that's all he was going to be doing -- unless it was a favour, or just a few week's work).

    Amen to The Notebook. Have you seen Mean Girls?

  3. Anonymous7:37 pm

    I didn't want to post a spoiler, but yes I agree 100%. During the entire house scene I was torn three ways: thinking of Scream, enjoying the tension Craven was building up so nicely, and hoping that Dad wasn't going to be the one to deliver the coup de grace.

    Incidentally, during the scenes in the house did the audience you watched the film with snigger at Cillian Murphy's attempt at being menacing? I didn't find it a particularly funny scene, but there were a fair few laughs around the auditorium when I saw the film. I got the impression it was a combination of his whispered threats and the sight of this lanky guy hobbling round the house in pursuit of a girl who was obviously destined to survive the experience; for some people, apparently, Murphy didn't cut a very menacing figure.

    And no, I haven't seen Mean Girls. I know it got decent reviews, but it's not really my sort of thing.

  4. Actually I was in a big old auditorium, right at the front, and I couldn't hear anything but the film. Cillian Murphy's lumbering about at the end was the most ridiculous thing, especially with the scarf and putting his finger over the hole in his neck to talk. It was a wierd injury. But to be honest I was so caught up in it all that this didn't occur to me afterwards. Following on from what I said in the review, not even Robert Mitchum could survive that ...

  5. Anonymous10:42 pm

    It so happened that The Notebook was going cheap in a 2-DVDs-for£15 deal at my local supermarket so I picked up a copy and watched it last night.

    As you might expect, it's a fairly predictable story; they deliberately blew the one element of suspense that might have led them to completely surprise the viewer at the end. But then, there's nothing wrong with a trustworthy formula worked by someone who knows what he's doing. Nicholas Sparks, the author of the source material, has form when it comes to dependable romantic dramas. Director Nick Cassavetes has a distinctly patchy track record, but at least he's tried his hand at a variety of genres; he manages well enough here by keeping it simple and letting the actors do the heavy lifting.

    The senior pairing, James Garner and Gena Rowlands, give exactly the sort of relaxed and assured performances you'd expect as two people living in a rest home in their twilight years. Garner's habit of keeping Rowlands' character company by reading a love story to her acts as the framing device for the story which takes up most screen time, that of rich girl Rachel McAdams and poor-but-honest working man Ryan Gosling meeting when her family spend a summer in a small town, falling for one another and meeting all sorts of obstacles you'd expect along the way, from parental disapproval to World War II to rich suitors. You'd probably not be very much surprised at the way the story ends, nor by the back-story shared by the Garner and Rowlands characters. (Not wishing to give away any spoilers, I'll just note that I did think for one fleeting moment just after the halfway point that they were going down a different, even more heart-rendingly poignant route, but it turned out to be a feint.)

    Rachel McAdams does really well with her role; it helps that her looks that suit 1930s outfits and hairstyles as much as they do modern dress, but really it's her performance that wins you over. Given a decent script like this one, she's quite capable of a winning performance. On the evidence of this performance and her work in Red Eye, she's an eminently likeable screen presence. (I discount her performance in Wedding Crashers somewhat, because there she was essentially required to be pretty and that was about it.)

    I don't know whether Rachel McAdams can do heavy drama, but she surely has a shot at being the next decade's Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts if she wants to.

  6. I'm actually quite looking forward to seeing The Notebook now. The Rachel McAdams fan club starts here.