EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|ABANDON (director/writer: Stephen Gaghan; screenwriter: from the novel Adam's Fall by Sean Desmond; cinematographer: Matthew Libatique; editor: Mark Warner; music: Clint Mansell; cast: Katie Holmes (Katie Burke), Benjamin Bratt (Detective Wade Handler), Charlie Hunnam (Embry Langan), Zooey Deschanel (Samantha Harper), Melanie Lynsky (Mousy Julie), Gabriel Mann (Harrison Hobart), Tony Goldwyn (Dr. David Schaffer), Gabrielle Union (Amanda Luttrell); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Gary Barber/Roger Birnbaum/Lynda Obst/Edward Zwick; Paramount Pictures; 2002)|
an emotionally endearing story."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Stephen Gaghan's Abandon is a psychological thriller
set in a small-town college campus. Gaghan wrote the
screenplay for Traffic, winning an Oscar. Abandon is
loosely based on the book Adam's Fall by Sean Desmond.
Katie Holmes stars as Katie Burke, an ambitious
college student from working-class parents who earned
a scholarship to
It's now two years later and handsome Detective Wade Handler (Benjamin Bratt) is assigned the reopened case of the missing Embry Langan. Wade attends AA meetings for his alcohol abuse problem, and tries to turn his life around by leading a quiet bookish life. Wade appears on campus to question the students, but he becomes more interested in pursuing Katie and a romance between the two blossoms--though there seemed to be no passion between the two to convince me either has fallen in love. Yet the film gets its title as the cop lets go of his cop instincts and falls for the troubled girl with abandonment. Katie acts as if she had ice in her veins, as she leads on the cop.
The emotionally exhausted Katie is seeing a shrink (Tony Goldwyn) and telling him of her weird dreams and trouble finishing her thesis on "emerging ancillary markets in the global wireless revolution." Katie also tells the shrink she thinks Embry has returned.
The crux of the film is about Katie being stalked by the pompous Embry, a ghost-like figure who displays violent tendencies. Katie tells Wade about this stalking experience and the two plan to go away together to Wade's country home in New Hampshire, as Katie can't face Embry again and seeks comfort from the cop (rejection is the big problem for this Psychology 101 melodrama and becomes the way of explaining the main character's motivation).
Gaghan strives to make Abandon a moody psychological thriller along the lines of Vertigo, but he lacks the filmmaking know-how to build suspense and deliver a narrative with some zip. The only live-wire in the film was scene-stealer Zooey Deschanel as one of Katie's more endearing college roomies. Abandon lacked an emotionally endearing story to bring such overstated psychological pretensions to fruition, though I still think the fledgling director shows some potential despite this failed effort.
REVIEWED ON 6/23/2004 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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