Monday, October 3, 2011

Jim Sheridan: Broken Home (Dream House)

Rachel Weisz, Dream House, Universal Pictures, 2011.

A fragmented melodrama/horror-thriller/haunted house/did he or didn't he picture which frustratingly does not come together, Jim Sheridan's intriguing Dream House is a delicious melange of style with little substance and no resonance.

A mediocre script with A-list talent sometimes works, but definitely not here, so lets not get into the sandy narrative. It's all derivative and unbuyable anyway. Instead we'll focus on the better aspects. The A-list cast is really very good. Daniel Craig, as always, invests himself completely in Will, a businessman who finds that he and his family have moved into an idyllic murder house. Rachel Weisz is warm as his doting wife Libby, and Naomi Watts is good if a little out of place as his shifty neighbor Ann. The underrated Marton Csokas is driven and forceful as Ann's husband, Jack. Elias Koteas is always welcome in any cast.

Caleb Deschanel's cinematography is a beast of ferocious pleasure, his dance of shadow and light adding a sheen of mystery to a plot seriously lacking in that department.  John Debney's score is playful yet genuinely creepy. I always love when a filmmaker steps out of his comfort zone and tries a new genre. For the last 25 years, Sheridan has become known as the Irish workingman's director. His plaintive, simple biopics and domestic dramas were all well done and lauded, including My Left Foot, The Field, In the Name of the Father, The Boxer and In America.

With Get Rich or Die Tryin', he stepped out of his comfort zone and succeeded. It was an honestly well done picture, with Sheridan's touch just the thing it needed to take it to another level. His remake of Susanne Bier's Brothers was a return to his old visual style and emphasis on domesticity. With Dream House, he triumphs stylistically, while as a whole, it is the least film in an impressive, individual body of work.

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