Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mr Brooks

Out for some time in the States, about to be realeased here, the serial killer genre gets a (slightly) new twist with Kevin Kostner as Mr Brooks, a mild-mannered businessman who is using the Twelve Step programme to try to give up his addiction to murder. Haunted and continually tempted by his alter ego, Marshall, a fine portrait of sinister and supernaturally smart hunger by William Hurt, Brooks, a.k.a. the Thumbprint Killer, steps into a world of trouble when he gives in to temptation for one last time. His double murder is witnessed by a nerdish amateur photographer (Dane Cook), who blackmails Brooks into initiating him into the murder club. So far so good. Dane Cook’s sweaty nervousness nicely ratchets up the unpredictability and Kostner (always at his best when he dons a bowtie and horn-rimmed glasses) and Hurt are a great double act; there’s a very fine moment when, after half an hour of bickering, they both laugh at the same time at the same nasty little idea, and you realise just how indivisible they really are.

Trouble is, the movie can’t resist piling on the issues. The policewoman hunting the Thumbprint Killer, played by Demi Moore, is not only a millionairess, she’s not only being taken to the cleaners by her soon-to-be-divorced husband and his rapacious lawyer, but she’s also being pursued by another serial killer who’s just escaped from prison and wants revenge. I half-expected her to be suffering from some kind of rare terminal illness, too. And Mr Brooks’s daughter hasn’t dropped out of college because she may or may not be pregnant: she’s inherited her father’s addiction, and has just botched her first effort. All of this is more or less skilfully resolved into a clever and neatly packaged ending, but it’s at the expense of proper development of the three-cornered relationship between Mr Brooks, Marshall, and the wannabe.

Demi Moore as usual sticks her chin in the air too much but wrings a few good moments from for her overblown character - but we’re also treated to the usual gratuitous scene of her exercising with grim determination (we got the message after G.I. Jane, Demi: give it a rest). Portland, Oregon, provides a fairly anonymous setting. Three out of five stars - partly in the hope that this will get Hurt much more work.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Alfie said...

The movie was definitely better than I had expected. The AA meetings as a means of secretly overcoming to urge to kill was nice touch, and the scene about selecting a victim was a bit unsettling. However Moore's character was the standard stereotype of female cops, right down to the father issues.

Also, thanks for the response to my last comment. I have forgotten the title of the book, and unfortunately is it being used to stabilize my bed at the moment.

July 21, 2007 3:41 PM  
Blogger Peromyscus said...

Yeah, Demi, stop exercising and trying to bring your own body into line with your personal needs and expectations. You should know by now that your body belongs to men, not to you. They're the ones who have to look at you.

Also, note that I'm addressing you personally, Demi, not director Bruce Evans, even though you're an actress and you were working under his direction. Clearly you thought of it yourself because you're determined to piss me off with your independence from my needs. Bruce is a man so I'm sure he had nothing to do with anything in that scene.

July 29, 2007 7:15 PM  
Anonymous Paul McAuley said...

You're right, maybe I've been too hard on poor Demi Moore; maybe neither she nor her people had any input into the script or the shooting at all. Maybe it was indeed Bruce Evans who insisted on that gratuitous swimathon scene, because he didn't expect the audience to believe in a female character who could cut it in a man's world without showing that she has to work punishingly hard for it. See also the beginning of The Silence of the Lambs, when Jodi Foster is shown flogging herself through the FBI obstacle course in the same way. Although in that movie Foster is the apprentice who must past test after test to become the hero who slays the monster and rescues the princess, while we're shown, repeatedly, that Demi Moore's character is an experienced cop. It's definitely not her fault that her character is cliched in a way that those of the two male leads are not, which is what lets that strand of the movie down.

July 30, 2007 8:47 PM  

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