Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Devil You Know: Movie Review

Blackmail that doesn't lead anywhere at all.

“The Devil You Know” tells the tale of a daughter of a reclusive movie star trying to break into the business and of her mother trying to reestablish her celebrity reputation but then she is threatened by an anonymous blackmailer. Most people would assume that that would just be the beginning of the plot that the blackmail would lead to something eventful, or thrilling or suspenseful, or just something. 2013

Directed by: James Oakley

Screenplay by: Alex Michaelides

Starring: Lena Olin, Rosamund Pike

Instead that opening sentence took more than one hour of the total hour and twenty-two minutes runtime. Actually not even the complete sentence unless you take “blackmail” to literally mean receiving a black card in the mail. It took them the entire movie to establish that Zoe (Rosamund Pike) is struggling to get a job in the movie industry and is jealous of her mother’s success. Her mother, Kathryn (Lena Olin) isn’t liked by anybody.

The actors had their moments – particularly Rosamund Pike as a struggling actress. There was something very relatable and natural about her character. But the rest of the characters were utter nonsense, particularly Olin's Kathryn – a woman that I wouldn't want to spend more than a second with. Dean Winters has fantastic comedic abilities, especially when he's playing something purposely ridiculous as straight. But the cliched dialogue and elements of his character were ridiculous without intending to be.

There were some beautiful shots, for instance the opening sequence of Zoe trying to act in front of gorgeous water fountain. But then there were out-of-focus shots of people’s legs, and it became clear they really didn’t have any concrete, coherent ideas for this film. Just abstract thoughts of: Blackmail! Murder! Sexuality! Infidelity! Deceit! Without actually saying or doing anything.

There’s a good reason why this movie didn’t get a release after around 6 years of sitting on the shelf – there’s too little to this story. There isn’t even a story. But then Jennifer Lawrence became famous and somebody dug out this little known film with a little known somebody in a little role. If you watch for almost an hour, you might see a young Jennifer Lawrence. I say “might” see because the role lasts one second and you have to be awake with your eyes open.

There’s an artistic sense to “The Devil You Know” even though there’s nothing else to it. So I might recommend it to people who want a thriller without any of the action or suspense or intrigue that normally comes with it. I definitely don’t recommend it to fans of Jennifer Lawrence (don’t let the IMDb page fool you, she’s not the star) or anybody looking for an interesting movie.

Similar Titles:

Gone Girl (2014) - Implores you to not take appearances at face value as the characters cut a dark tale of marriage.

Winter's Bone (2010) - "Winter's Bone" isn't even a character study let alone a thriller.