Saturday, March 16, 2013

the divide [2011]

it was a long, horrible week.  so after anna and nick went to bed i watched this flick.  i've been meaning to see this movie for a while now.  i just can't believe 2 years have passed since it was released.  getting older also means losing track of time.

the filmmaker, xavier gens, is part of a loosely associated group of young horror directors that make up the french new wave of extreme and extremely graphic movies.  these guys, like alexandre aja who helmed haute tension [2003], display fluid camera work and tightly edited scenes that highlight a visceral, graphic yet pulpy violence.  gens has talent but his movies lack better scripts.

the movie begins with eva, played with deft yet grim sincerity by lauren german [who as an actor was an unknown to me], watching her city burn as it is attacked in an unnamed and thru the runtime of the movie un-referenced war that ends with an atomic blast.  she survives along with her egghead french boyfriend, two brothers, a mother and daughter, and a few other denizens of their apartment building.  they hole up in the basement of the building super played genre stalwart michael biehn.

as fear encroaches and supplies dwindle the survivors turn on each other till only one of them survives.  guess who that survivor might be.  i'm not giving nothing away since eva is the anchor of the film.  the movie ends with eva surveying the ruins of her city.  you know she is doomed too.

still the script lacks any narrative cohesion.  there is nothing wrong with leaving things a mystery or keeping a couple threads loose.  the war is never mentioned by the survivors.  right after the survivors settle in to the dull routines of life in a dank basement their idle is disturbed by the arrival of a clique of soldiers who take the daughter away from the group and try to gun down the rest.  the mother, who is assayed by the solid rosanna arquette, goes nuts for the obvious reasons and becomes the sexual slave of the two brothers.  who or what the soldiers are doing and why they need the little girl is never explained nor discussed by the survivors.

a big gaping hole is thus made in the center of the movie.  there is a thread of disturbing psycho-sexual pathology that develops -- for example, arquette becoming the slave of the two brothers who also take control of what little food and water there is -- within the narrative but as brutal as its imagery the pathology is an afterthought within the narrative as a whole.

i kept thinking that gens and his producers should've demanded a watertight screenplay.  this movie is a chamber piece.  all of its action take place within the limited confines of an underground bunker.  even biehn who is usually a dependable onscreen presence spoke lines that sounded like they were written by a third-grader.  a chamber piece depends on good writing.  the best editor and cinematographer can't rescue a flick with an underdeveloped narrative.  the case were game.  the characters were never developed for the viewer to care for their survival.  courtney b. vance is a good actor but is wasted in this movie as a survivor who unlocks a secret held by biehn.  i did want eva to survive but not for the sake of her character.  i just wanted the movie to end.           


Post a Comment

<< Home