Monday, November 7, 2011

DVD Review: Trespass

Trespass *
Directed by: Joel Schumacher.
Written by: Karl Gajdusek.
Starring: Nicolas Cage (Kyle Miller), Nicole Kidman (Sarah Miller), Ben Mendelsohn (Elias), Liana Liberato (Avery Miller), Cam Gigandet (Jonah), Jordana Spiro (Petal), Dash Mihok (Ty), Emily Meade (Kendra), Nico Tortorella (Jake).

There are some movies where you just simply shake your head and wonder why a group of talented people even got involved with it in the first place. Trespass is such a poorly written movie that I cannot imagine what director Joel Schumacher or his talented cast ever thought it would work – or why anyone gave them the money to even attempt it. Schumacher may not be the best director around, but he’s better than this dreck. I understand why Nicolas Cage in the movie, I guess, because even though I remain a fan of his, I have gotten used to the fact that for every off the wall, brilliant performance like Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, I have to suffer through five or ten movies this horrible. And I kind of see why talented supporting players like Ben Mendelsohn (so good in last year’s Animal Kingdom), Dash Mihok (who has always been good, no matter how bad the movies are) or Liana Liberato (amazing in Trust earlier this year) got involved. After all, this must have seemed like a mainstream movie for them. The one I’m really struggling with is Nicole Kidman. She has shown herself to be a fairly good judge of material in the past 10 years, and has taken some rather huge chances that few other movie stars like her would have attempted (Dogville, Margot at the Wedding). Was she really this desperate to make a movie?

Trespass is a ridiculous little thriller starring Cage as Kyle Miller, an apparently wealthy diamond dealer, living in a huge home with his beautiful wife Sarah (Kidman) and their teenage daughter Avery (Liberato). Kyle has just returned home from a business trip, when a group of thugs get past his security system and into their home. They want his money and his diamonds, and make it clear that they will not be leaving without them. Of course, it’s all in the wall safe, and Kyle refuses to open that. He thinks, correctly, that as soon as he does, the whole family will be killed. But as long as he refuses, they can’t kill him, because then they will have gained nothing. The robbers, led by Elias (Mendelsohn), include the violent Ty (Mihok), the pathetic Jonah (Cam Gigandet), who gives away way too much in the way he looks at Sarah, and the drug addled Petal (Jordana Spiro). So essentially, everyone is at a standoff – and not much happens. They talk, they threaten each other, and over the course of the movie one “shocking” twist after another comes along, although I didn’t find any of those twists all that shocking, and even less plausible.

There is nothing good about Trespass from the time it begins until it ends. The direction by Schumacher is over the top – utilizing slow motion, freeze frames, and other tricks to try and disguise the fact that there is nothing all that interesting going on in the movie. The screenplay is ridiculous, full of either clunky dialogue, or dialogue that doesn’t even make much sense. The performances are awful. At times, I think Cage was trying for the same clipped voice as in Bad Lieutenant, but at other times, he seems to forget that. Kidman really does seem like the mindless, expressionless robot that her detractors have long since claimed she was. Worst of all is Cam Gigandet, who I cannot figure out why he keeps getting work. He has yet to deliver a good performance, and yet he keeps getting hired.

Overall, I cannot say there is anything worthwhile in Trespass. It is rare for a movie to debut at the Toronto Film Festival in September, hit a few theaters in October and then go to DVD in November. After watching Trepass, I know why, despite the presence of two big stars, this movie was dumped by the studio. They should have done everyone involved a favor, and simply put it on a shelf.

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