ninth symphony films - movie reviews

DON'T SAY A WORD (2001)


DIRECTOR  -  gary fleder

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  suspense

LENGTH  -  113 minutes

RELEASED  -  28 september 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  don't say a word

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $50,000,000
don't say a word - a shot from the film

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buy the dvd from don't say a word at amazon.com


SYNOPSIS:
a noted adolescent psychiatrist, racing to secure the freedom of his kidnapped daughter, must first retrieve a critical piece of information from his newest pro bono patient: a catatonic, violent but angelic-looking young woman.




MOVIE FACT:
sean bean actually spoke to michael douglas and famke janssen on the cell phones during filming.


MOVIE FOTOS:

picture from don't say a word

picture from don't say a word

picture from don't say a word



RATING:


two out of four possible stars

There's something magical about sitting through a film you just know is going to be mediocre, and then having your instincts proved right. Perhaps it's just that I've seen too many movies, but Don't Say a Word delivered exactly what I figured it would: second-rate work attempting to become something trendy. This movie is just too caught up in trying to be cool. And what it turns out to be is a sorry attempt at being a thriller. It's hard to get the formula right in this genre and, because of a series of faulty elements, this movie just won't give audiences the willies.

And it should. Because the marketing for this film made it out to be something akin to The Sixth Sense with its mystery and The Silence of the Lambs with it's willie-factor. But you won't be scared by any of the images in this movie . . . except for Michael Douglas's attempt at reviving his romantic-lead stature in a film. Douglas has, in the film, a thirty year old wife, and a young daughter. While this family unit may be playing itself out in real life as we speak, it doesn't ring true in the movie. I just can't appreciate Douglas as a romantic lead anymore.

At least not with thirty-five year old Famke Janssen. I saw some of the members of the audience almost cringe (as i did myself) when Michael's character of "Dr. Nathan Conrad" offer to give Famke's character (named "Aggie") a sponge bath. In about five years, it will be impossible for Michael to play anything but a grandfather, and it looks as though, with Don't Say a Word that he's desperately trying to hang on to his youth. Okay, age prejudices aside, the other characters in this film were moderately interesting, but weren't engaging enough to make me forget I was sitting in a movie theater watching an early fall release.

I, like millions of other Americans, were brainwashed into seeing this movie on its opening weekend. The sheer volume of advertisements, radio spots, billboards, and commercials thrown out into the arena for this film made sure that anyone going to the movies the weekend Don't opened, knew that this film was playing. And I must admit, I was more than intrigued when I saw the trailers for this film. But like most of the movies that have come out in this lack-luster year of box-office bombs, the best parts of the film were in the trailer. And the rest of the film was almost barren of interesting moments.

There were a few parts of this film, which I found interesting, but those were all located in the first half hour of this film. when the film was pretty engaging. During the first act I was actually pleased that I had bought a ticket to this film. The story jumped along like it needed to keep me interested and the characters were dynamic. Kind of a lame word, I know, but this movie really did get off to a good start. It's just that the film never progressed any further into "interesting territory" after those first thirty minutes. The story just kind of stalled, as did the character arcs for the main actors. None of the characters in the story really changed, for better or worse, by the end of the story. They were exactly the same people by the end of the film that they had been in the beginning.

Add to that the story really isn't something I felt was unique. Here I was expecting a film whose secret I would be dying to know by the climax of the film, but at the end, I just didn't care about that stupid number. And that's the main focus of the film: what number does Brittany Murphy, who plays the mental patient named "Elisabeth Burrows, have stored in her head? That's what Michael Douglas must find out, or Sean Bean's character of "Patrick" will kill Michael's daughter. Murphy's character, like the rest of the cast, doesn't go through that necessary character change by the end of the film. She's still a very mentally disturbed person at the end of the film.

And this is somewhat ironic, considering that Michael Douglas was supposed to have cured her. But wait, perhaps, like Hamlet (Oh God, am I really comparing this to Shakespeare??), she was really only pretending to be nuts. Which I think is supposed to be the case, but this all comes back to the fact that her character becomes flat by the second act. Which might not be her fault. While it's true that I found Douglas's character to be less than desirable as a leading man, I can't say that any of the characters really annoyed me. Even Famke had her good points. But because the story is faulty, none of the actors has a chance to shine.

What might have been a chance for each of the actors to turn in a performance reminiscent of those great dark thrillers from the 40's and 50's, turns out to be nothing more than a movie that steps right in line with the rest of the 2001 releases. The "mainstream" factor of this and other recent movies have turned out to be nothing but second rate stories and characters unfortunately blessed with large marketing campaigns and big name stars. I shudder to think what michael douglas's salary on this film was.

So, in conclusion, this film receives one star for the first thirty minutes of the movie. It starts out very well! It just loses it's momentum because it never ventures into different territory during the second and third acts. The film just becomes boring. Damn the people who put together the marketing campaign for this film! They duped me into thinking that i would enjoy the whole two hours of this film. as it is, I would suggest to anyone insisting on paying money for this film, that you stay in the theater for the first thirty minutes, and pop into another movie for the duration.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.


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