by Eric D. Snider
Released: January 15, 2004
Billy Crudup and Jennifer Connelly appeared in 2000 in a film called "Waking the Dead", about a man who keeps seeing his dead girlfriend, causing him to wonder if he's going insane. That film, while mishandled a little, at least offered some penetrating performances and a well-conceived story.
"Trauma," which has essentially the same premise as "Waking the Dead," lurks around like it's some kind of innovative, all-original psychological thriller, when in fact it rates a big fat "so what?" It is yet another film about a man with a tenuous grip on reality, and all of his weird memories and hallucinations are just like the ones suffered by all the other men with tenuous grips on reality in all the other movies.
This man is played by Colin Firth, though, and it is fun to see him play someone more unhinged and unpredictable than the staid, reserved characters he usually plays. His name is Ben, and he awakens from a post-car accident coma to learn that his wife was killed in the crash. On nearly the same day, a pop star named Lauren Parris was found dead in a canal, which means the whole world is mourning her death while Ben is trying to mourn his wife's.
The incidents may be connected, though. Some facts suggest Ben was more than just a casual fan of Lauren's, and an especially dogged police inspector refuses to let the evidence, albeit circumstantial, go unnoticed.
Meanwhile, Ben befriends Charlotte (Mena Suvari), a woman in a neighboring apartment, and continues to be plagued with visions of his deceased wife. Could she be alive? Is he going mad? And so on.
Suvari's performance is flat and lifeless, which I think might have been due to instruction given by director Marc Evans, who might have wanted her to seem ethereal and otherworldly. I don't know; to me, it just makes her boring.
I have nothing else to say here. The twists, when they do finally arrive (after so much dilly-dallying), are not especially surprising, and the movie adds up to little. I recommend "Waking the Dead" for a much better treatment of a very similar subject.
Rated R, scattered harsh profanity, some disturbing images
1 hr., 33 min.
Copyright © Eric D. Snider.
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