An outdated and unoriginal 'subconscious thriller' starring Mark Strong and Brian Cox
Poor dialogue, wooden acting and a lack of originality are the major sins which scupper this pseudo-cerebral neo-noir from Jorge Dorado. Mark Strong frowns his way through his first leading role as John, a 'memory detective' tasked with investigating teenage femme fatale Anna (Taissa Farmiga). As he delves deeper into her case and her psyche, John becomes suspicious that Anna is somehow manufacturing her own memories, all the while battling his own demons.
The 'subconscious thriller' is a subgenre whose flexible, imaginary settings provide ample room for strong visual flourishes (a la Trance and Inception), but Dorado brings almost nothing to the table except a recurring staircase motif; the rest of the film plods along in a nondescript black-and-chrome palette. Script writers Guy and Martha Holmes, meanwhile, have set up John as an archetypal throwback to the late 80s / early 90s thrillers of Michael Douglas (Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Disclosure) – a good man unfairly persecuted by a manipulative and vindictive woman. It's a caricature that's not only lazy and chauvinistic, but tiresomely outdated.
While it's sad to witness such a dearth of originality in what might otherwise be described as 'fresh' talent (Dorado and the Holmeses are all first timers), there's no encouragement from the more experienced set either, typified by Brian Cox's phoned-in performance as John's boss. By the time the inevitable last-act twist comes round, audiences will find themselves hard pressed to care.
Reviewed at Glasgow Film Festival 2014.