Directed by Maria Pulera
This is one really weird Nicolas Cage movie but then again what do you expect from Nicolas Cage? The man has made a career out of odd and weird.
The movie is a pretty good concept executed well enough but not well enough to get completely off the ground. It has fits and starts of being good then just kind of fizzles.
Nicolas Cage stars as Joe, a truck driver who lost his wife and daughter to a fire. Joe meets up with Julie (Franka Potente) a woman struggling to keep her daughter alive with less than conventional means. That’s the first 20 minutes or so. The rest of the movie is about how the dead wife has taken over the body of Julie’s daughter Billie (Penelope Mitchell) and is now trying to get back with Nicolas Cage and wrap up business from when she was alive.
The concept itself about the dead wife hijacking the body of the daughter is a pretty good concept. There is a great deal of potential there to create an entertaining film. You could have gone a cheesy horror route. This movie didn’t do that. You could have gone the mystery route were the two leads slowly uncover that it’s not Billie but rather Joe’s dead wife. This movie didn’t do that either.
Instead you just have Joe abruptly start a sexual relationship with the mom. And then after the revelation that the daughter is actually his dead wife, Joe starts up with her. And all that takes are a few details of their previous life and he’s just swapping spit with her. There’s no build up to his grief and loss to explain his actions and there’s no build up to either sexual relationship. It’s just “Bam!” it’s happening.
Nicolas Cage is a great actor and he definitely elevates the material he’s given to work with here. Unfortunately, the others aren’t quite as good. Potente is a good actress but she just can’t quite elevate her stuff to the quality of Cage. As Julie she’s mostly just stressed the whole time.
A cast needs to work together as much as possible when they are in scenes together and in my opinion, it shows that the individual actors filmed a great deal of their stuff separately. I started rewinding the movie when I first noticed that the actors in the same scenes didn’t look to be in the same shot. The movie was filmed in Sweden and Alabama (what a combo) and that kind of jumps out to me
There is one point where Joe is clearly photographed with Billie and Joe is clearly photographed with Julie but in scenes with the mother and the daughter it looks almost as if each actress was filmed separately and the footage was then put together. The only time were there clearly together is at the very end scene of the film and that’s all for a hot minute. It’s kind of off putting.
I’m wondering why. Was there some reason they couldn’t film in the same country with everybody together more? As I said they apparently could only get the three mains and the inconsequential boyfriend of the daughter together for the very last scene.
Another thing that bothers me is the tightness of the shots. I know in low budget films that’s a given but when the actors look uncomfortably close it takes away from the movie. And it looks like everyone is invading each other’s personal space in most every shot. Spread out a bit!
There is one high point of this movie for me. It’s perhaps the most oddball scene and so very Nick Cage. There is a Nicolas Cage book in the movie. I’m not sure if the book is real or not but he’s reading it to the daughter while they are having sex. It’s very weird but it’s the one scene that works the best in this whole movie because of its weirdness and because Nicolas Cage as Joe is reading a Nicolas Cage book.
The music is OK, but it doesn’t always fit with what’s going on in the film. It looks like it was taken from one movie and shoved in almost randomly into this movie.
It’s a good concept that only occasionally clicks. The dialogue is clunky and a little heavy handed in driving across what’s going on. It feels like it’s more exposition and less acting. It often feels less complimentary to the scene and more there to prevent uncomfortable silence.
This film definitely deserves the direct to DVD treatment. It needed a better budget. Not by much here but by more than what it had. And it needed to get everyone filming their scenes together. Was that too much to ask?
It’s not a bad movie but because of its flaws it probably won’t rate repeated viewing. Watch it if you want to see Nicolas Cage do his thing but other than that you can probably pass on it.