Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Compulsion (2013) - film review

The 2013 Canadian film Compulsion is a re-make, but it has nothing to do with Meyer Levin's famous book of the same name, based on a true crime. Instead, it's a re-make of a South Korean movie called 301,302. I can see why the producers didn't want to use that title, but I have to say this film doesn't make me yearn to see the original. It's an odd piece of work.

I started watching without knowing anything about it other than that it starred Heather Graham and was a thriller. Heather Graham is fine, but I feel I was mis-sold with regard to the 'thriller' description. Compulsion doesn't seem to know what sort of a film it is trying to be. The thrills are few and far between, but there are some moments of sharp comedy and satire, and a few sexy scenes. There are as well one or two dark scenes about the abuse of a young girl which contrast with the very bright photography used in most of the film - these made me feel that the funny segments were lapses in tone.

We are introduced to Graham's character as someone fascinated by cooking, and it's clear at once that she's a little weird. A detective(Joe Mantegna) calls at her flat, and asks questions about a missing female neighbour. Little by little, the truth about the two women's relationship emerges. The neighbour, Saffron (Carrie-Anne Moss) was once a young film star, but is now writing sex advice columns while trying unsuccessfully to revive her acting career. When Graham discovers that her rich boyfriend is having an affair, she finds solace in cooking for Saffron, even though Saffron isn't keen to eat the food she is given.

The film runs for less than an hour and a half. Brevity is usually a plus point in books and movies, in my opinion, and I was glad that Compulsion didn't outstay its welcome. I've read some brutal reviews of it, as well as a few fairly good ones (though I think there's more admiration for the glamorous Graham than the storyline). In fairness, it's a film with some genuinely interesting component parts, but they are thrown together too randomly for Compulsion to rank as anything more than a curiosity.


1 comment:

Margot Kinberg said...

Sorry to hear you were disappointed in this more than not, Martin. I'd been wondering whether it was good. Perhaps I'll wait on it...