Saturday, March 8, 2014

Chlorine: Movie Review


Materialistic characters get tangled up in a plot which doesn’t deliver any twists.
“Chlorine” takes place in a New England country club where people search for the “perfect” life. The mother, Georgie (Kyra Sedgwick), wants more money; the father, Roger (Vincent D’Onofrio), wants to be respected; son Henry wants to find a purpose in life; and daughter Cynthia is becoming a woman whether she wants to or not. There’s also a business guy who also wants money, a tennis instructor who wants cocaine and money, and blonde girls (of which there are too many to distinguish) who want sex. 2013

Directed by: Jay Alaimo

Screenplay by: Jay Alaimo, Matt Fiorello
Story by: Peter Tannenbaum

Starring: Kyra Sedgwick, Flora Cross, Vincent D'Onofrio

Photos courtesy of Gravitas Ventures.
The film opens with Cynthia getting her period at a swim meet, and then being welcomed into womanhood by the swim instructor. All of the characters, even the peripheral ones, were well acted and suggested that we want to get to know them. The swim instructor was probably one of the best characters because she didn’t want anything in particular and wasn’t particularly unhappy. But when we recap what all of the other characters wanted: money, sex, respect and more money and cocaine — it becomes pretty clear that not much good is going to come from getting to know them.

The main characters that didn’t want anything material were pretty good too. D’Onofrio played a great middle-aged man approaching a mid-life crisis, but really his wife was creating a mid-life crisis for him. I never could get a handle on Henry but at least he didn’t like the country club world. The plot, as it finally develops around half-way into the movie, was very obvious and predictable. It wouldn’t be so bad if you could form a connection to the characters.

Other than the writing of annoying characters, one of the bigger mistakes is actually a casting one. 20-year-old Flora Cross plays 14-year-old Cynthia, and she doesn’t look or act like a 14-year-old at all. First crush jitters don’t look natural. Apart from that, her coming-of-age story was handled well enough. Henry’s coming-of-age story was probably even better, but I can’t guess what age he was supposed to be.

“Chlorine” starts with the very indie feel of shaky, close-up shots, but that gradually fades out as we get to know the community it’s set at. The off-beat score was a good back-drop for the impending mystery-like plot, it just should have been much more interesting. The film also fails when it claims to deliver a twist – a character actually says “it’s not what you expect”, and then it’s exactly what was expected. Twists work better if there actually is one. Characters also work better when they want something more than money, sex, respect and more money and cocaine.

Similar Titles:

The Joneses (2009) - A thoughtful and original twist on keeping up with the Joneses.