Movies of total illogical substance annoy me, and I don’t think I’m alone. Truth be told all movies are artistic expression—ok…some—but when a film is so blatantly far from reality yet masquerades as a “psychological thriller” I cannot help but wince. “Derailed” is awkwardly laughable; it’s the kind of movie that changes your opinion of the actors, director, writer, producer—everyone involved.
Derailed Movie Review
The film is one of the first released by the new Weinstein Company. Anyone who follows the movie business recalls a no-holds brawl between the Weinstein’s (Harvey and his brother Bob) and parent company Disney’s former head Michael Eisner. Long story short, the Weinstein’s were axed from their own start up Miramax (named after their parents!) and left with only a few films with which to expand on. Sadly, “Derailed” is a poor attempt for a coming out party and does the Weinstein’s no use. Jennifer Aniston is the female lead, and some may remember this film merely as her first release since the demise of “Friends” and her marriage to some famous guy. Again, the film does her no justice as a PR vehicle.
The so called thriller centers on Charles Schine played with honest fervor by British heartthrob Clive Owen. It’s not that he does a poor acting job, he is merely misguided. Charles is an ad executive struggling with a number of normal crises: his young daughter is severely afflicted with diabetes and has rejected her third kidney transplant, his marriage has reached a state of love without passion, and he has recently been terminated from a major account at work. He misses his usual train one morning, forcing him to board the next available—thus he is derailed—hence the title (clever, huh?). On board he has no money for his ticket but, alas, a strikingly seductive women named Lucinda (Aniston) happens to hear of his predicament and offers to pay for his ticket. He moves to her seat, they strike up a conversation about their adorable kids, he likes her, she likes him, they meet again, it becomes romantic…If you think you’ve heard this before you’re right.
The only difference is the nature of the romance. Charles and Lucinda don’t appear to fall in lust, rather, they both understand the other’s loneliness and sorrow and this leads to an inevitable tryst in a hotel room that is interrupted by a thug with a French accent who rapes Lucinda and beats Charles. When it is over, Charles is left with the guilt of not protecting Lucinda as he lay unconscious from a blow to the head. The two agree to cool off for a while but are harassed again by Mr. Frenchman who blackmails Charles to pay him $10,000 or risk his wife finding out about the almost-affair, or worse, Lucinda’s husband who she claims will take her daughter if he knew she was unfaithful. Charles feels guilty, so he pays. But it’s not over yet. The real action begins at this point in the movie but that’s all the synopsis I will reveal.
Most of the film is well cast if not perfectly executed. Jennifer Aniston proves that she has the presence of a film actress but lacks the skill needed for a clean transition from sitcom to blockbuster. She plays the part of a seductress well, but anything more than that is robotic. In fact is just plain weird to see her in this role, she’s much better suited as a girl next door in a romantic comedy.
One standout performance is RZA (“Scary Movie 3”) as Winston, Charles’s friend from work. He’s given the unfortunate role of the common black guy Charles knows who agrees to scare off this French scoundrel. He takes the part and plays it well.
Whether or not the aforementioned plot sounds intriguing is beyond the point after watching it unfold. Director Mikael Hafstrom, a Swedish filmmaker and writer, and screenwriter Stuart Beattie, give away their notion of the film in the beginning during a breakfast scene with the Schine family. Charles and his wife Deanna (Melissa George) try to explain to their daughter how to write about an author for school. Charles, a former teacher, tells her that the author provides a narrative of intrigue so compelling that “you never know what’s going to happen next.” Uh, no. Sorry, “Derailed” does anything but compel. Somewhere along the way the filmmakers forgot about logic, heart, cohesion, etc.. For those who guess the two “twists” beforehand, Bravo! I must admit the last scene was startling, but I really had no interest by that point.
A Weinstein Co. Release
Directed By Mikael Hafstrom
Screenplay By Stuart Beattie
Based on the novel “Derailed” By James Siegel
Charles Schine: Clive Owen
Lucinda Harris: Jennifer Aniston
Philippe Laroche: Vincent Cassel
Deanna Schine: Melissa Geroge
Winston Boyko: RZA
Amy Schine: Addison Timlin