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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

''D'Onofrio is blistering'' Review: 'Chained'

Chained | Review
JASON WIDGINGTON
AUGUST 14, 2012

MILD SPOILERS


ION CINEMA 

A Jennifer Lynch film never fails to polarize audiences. 1993′s Boxing Helena was widely panned by critics and avoided by filmgoers, but a small cult audience – including a few cinema scholars – found much to like about the story of a man and his quadruple-amputee hostage. Surveillance, Lynch’s 2008 followup, was even more divisive. This dark and violent film about differing points of view of a highway slaughter in a small town was either loathed or adored by critics and audiences alike, although the divide was a little more even than in 1993. Lynch’s films will never receive middle of the road reactions, and her latest, Chained is likely to follow along the same response.

Vincent D’Onofrio (Full Metal Jacket) plays Bob, a taxi driver who happens to also be a serial killer, luring his fares out to his rural home to rape and murder them. One day, Bob picks up a woman (Julia Ormond, Surveillance) and her young son outside a theater and proceeds to take them to his house, murder the mother, and tell the boy that he now belongs to him and will cook his food and clean his house and not ask any questions, and that his new name is Rabbit. Obviously this is no normal father-son relationship, as Bob is evidently grooming Rabbit to take over the family business. As the years go by and the young Rabbit (Evan Bird of AMC’s The Killing) grows into the teenaged Rabbit (relative newcomer Eamon Farren), we are treated to a series of vignettes showing this ‘odd couple’ in action: here’s Rabbit trying to escape; here’s Bob teaching Rabbit some valuable life lessons; here’s Rabbit digging a grave for Bob’s latest victim; here are both of them playing a deranged game of cards using Bob’s victims’ IDs; here’s Bob slamming a high school yearbook down on the table and demanding that the horrified Rabbit pick his own first victim, etc. 

This all leads up to the third act and its twist ending, which some will see as needlessly contrived. Yet while the plot itself is simple enough, Lynch’s films are never really about story, are they? Like Boxing Helena and Surveillance before it, Chained is, first and foremost, a character study – one which is driven by the stellar performances of the two main actors. D’Onofrio is blistering in his portrayal of Bob, a tortured soul haunted by his past and determined to pay that torture forward. He owns the screen whenever he’s on it, with his (purposely) unplaceable accent and stooped posture evoking pathos even while evil courses through his veins. And Farren portrays Rabbit with aplomb, displaying the dread of and resignation to his fate in equal amounts and with complete believability. Which is to say nothing of the camera work and editing. With shots that linger for what seems like minutes without dialogue, Lynch and her crew seem perfectly happy – and rightfully so – to just let D’Onofrio and Farren do their thing.

Depending on how you look at Chained once the final credits roll and you’ve had time to absorb it, you can come away with the notion that it’s a rather ham-fisted diatribe against child abuse whose main purpose is to shock, or you can just revel in what are two of the finest performances in genre cinema this year or any year. In actuality, it’s a little bit of both, and perhaps that was Jennifer Lynch’s plan all along.

Reviewed at the 2012 Fantasia Int. Film Festival – 105 Mins.


17 comments:

Rose said...

Lynch’s films will never receive middle of the road reactions. And a movie about child abuse, IMO, people would rather not discuss the topic of child abuse, what a shame, an important topic and great acting, going to DVD. Frustrating....

vikeau said...

Rose with the exception of one review--the reviews have been glowing. Maybe there will be a limited theatrical release. I for one am willing to travel within a reasonable distance to see this on the big screen. DC, Philly, NY(of course if in NY will be visiting the family as well).

Leigh said...

I take reviews with a grain of salt, I am more interested in my own opinion. I appreciate all the information and reviews, they are interesting to read, and I can't wait until October for the dvd. My birthday is Oct 7th, so I have already told my husband that's what I want this year, pressure's off, he doesn't have to think of anything to get me.

Nantz said...

I like to post the reviews because the comments about Vincent have been glowing and the anticipation of actually seeing the film is growing. Leigh, great birthday gift for you! I agree with you, Rose, it should be seen as a theatrical release first.

Anonymous said...

Deduct 3.5 stars since this film is a total, blatant rip off of Stevan Mena's Bereavement. Lynch and all involved should be completely fucking ashamed of themselves!!

vikeau said...

Leigh some of my favorite people share a birthday with you. My older brother and a friend of 40 plus years. I knew there was a reason I liked you.LOL

Rose said...

Since I didn't know about the film Bereavement, of course I needed to look it up, and read about it and the reviews. Seriously though, doesn't a lot of movies take things from other movies? How much more can you say or portray about a psychopath? For me it will be about the performances, even if like you say it is a rip off, the acting of Vincent playing Bob, will be new and certainly intense. I'm just glad to watch a movie for the acting, I'm sick and tired of bad acting movies and all they have going for them are special effects and sex, and basically little story line. For me taking on the topic of child abuse, abuse of a child in any form, is always a good thing, more people need to open their eyes to it, instead of getting uncomfortable and then wanting to talk about something more pleasant. I really like Jennifer's thoughts on topics that I am also interested in, and am waiting to see this movie.

sullie said...

Well said Rose.

Nantz said...

I did the same thing and looked up info on 'Bereavement'. I think it was a film that was more about gore over 'Chained' centering on the relationship of captor and his kidnapped victim. More deep. Surface over depth. And, I agree, ideas are passed around from film to film. I'd rather see an expansion and newer angle on something over sequels ad nauseum.

Rose said...

Thank-you sullie, and me too Nantz. My question has this person even seen the movie yet, or just bitter about something, maybe the director, the actors? Just a wild guess, but something tells me that Ms Lynch is liked by men rather then women. Obvious after the attack on her first movie. Her views are bleeding heart views, such as mine, and that is the intriguing part about this film for me. Some of us like to know the why, and would prefer to have a thinking movie, nothing wrong with a movie that you just lose thought and have fun, but for me way to many of those films. I'm really looking forward to more of her movies, and even though it would be very hard to come close to her dad's success, she just may be able to do it.

Nantz said...

Well, Anonymous has the right to make a statement/opinion about the film. To me, saying you would deduct 3.5 stars means that no credit is given to the acting, cinematography, etc. Right now, the majority of the reviews have been favorable and has lit a much-needed fire for Jennifer. I hope the momentum continues and that she enjoys more success.

vikeau said...

I read the comment but pretty much skipped over it because I had not seen Beravement and I haven't senn Chained. For me if I read a review I only ask one thing if you trash a film or praise it just explain why. Like Leigh in the end I'll make up my own mind.

Nantz said...

Indeed, it will be up to the individual viewers to determine how they interpret the film. I'm at a loss because I haven't seen either film and have little to go on. When KTI came out, it was either hit or miss but I have to say I really enjoyed it. Same with 'The Narrows' which I think didn't get the credit it deserved.

Leigh said...

Thanks Vikeau :-) The things I really look for in a movie are story, character development, and acting. It appears that Chained has all three, and I believe they've made a good movie, that I am really keen to see. I am never interested in what my husband and sons want to see - action movies and their endless sequels, they just bore me. Jennifer Lynch has aimed to achieve a movie with an important story, interesting characters, and I'm sure I don't need to say how good the acting will be. Can't wait to see it.

maculae said...

Bereavement would be the gore porn version of Chained. I haven't seen Chained at all, but while the basic ideas of the movie are similar, they could not be more different (based on what I've read on Chained). Also, the acting in Bereavement sucked.

Rose said...

Thanks maculae, you are a walking encyclopedia of movies, and always appreciate your info. Like your new banner Nantz!

Nantz said...

Thank you, Rose, Vincent certainly has done quite a slew of movies and this is his year. I agree with the comments that 'Chained' at the very least has a story and a message and not some hack-and-slash film for entertainment.