Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Seraphim Falls - Review by Sandra Dupuy

Director: David Von Ancken
Screenwriters: David Von Ancken & Abby Everett Jacques
Running time: 115 mins
Certificate: 15
Release date: 24th August

Pierce Brosnan was a jerky headless corpse trying to catch its talking head in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! (1996), a Casanova killer in The Matador (Richard Shepard, 2005), and is now a ghoulish stranger haunted by his past in Seraphim Falls (2006).

TV director’s David Von Ancken’s first feature film presents unfortunate similarities with Andre De Toth’s harrowing Day of the Outlaw (1959) or the intense western The Proposition (John Hillcoat, 2005). Skillfully filmed on location by Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll, it tells the tired post Civil War tale of Confederate hunter Colonel Carver (Liam Neeson) and hunted outlaw Gideon (Brosnan) through the Wild West.

In disguise under bushy eyebrows and a Hagrid-esque beard, ex-Bond Brosnan staggers his way through icy snow and bare vistas, bearing his secret as painfully as Greek giant Atlas carried the world. Nearly drowned, stabbed and shot many times, the former embodiment of American TV series' private eye Remington Steele (1982) is now attempting to play a new sort of MacGiver. Trying during two never-ending hours to lose his hunters, he cures his wounds with gun powder and a knife bigger than Paul Hogan’s Crocodile Dundee’s.

The other actors’ performances are reduced to facial tics and deeply unmeaningful stares, except for Michael Winicott's, ironic as usual. Winicott is the sole survivor of a waste of talents such as Liam Neeson, condemned to heroic parts since Neal Jordan’s 1996 Michael Collins. Angelica Huston’s cameo adds nothing, and her efforts to spice it up are vain.

New-Mexico and Oregon’s wilderness are stunning locations for swashbuckling, pistol shooting and horse kicking, and Clint Eastwood’s Man-with-no-name, popping up to offer some soft-spoken advice, wouldn’t be out of place. However, Von Ancken is not Sergio Leone yet, and Pierce’s performance doesn’t possess the required intensity to carry the lead role. The over-indulgence in violence gets tiring after an hour, while each scene is ridiculously stretched in order to make up for the futile dialogues. Seraphim Falls for stylish cinematography over screenplay substance.

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