Devon Bostick, Scott Speedman, Arsinee Khanjian, Rachel Blanchard, Noam Jenkins, Kenneth Welsh
Morris: Your uncle’s an angry man. Some people think he’s stupid, but that’s not true. When someone carries that sort of anger around all the time, they can seem stupid. That’s the thing about anger…it sucks up a lot of intelligence.
After hearing an old news story in his French class about a terrorism attempt, Simon (Bostick) rewrites the story as though his parents were the ones involved. Simon’s teacher Sabine (Khanjian), also a drama teacher, asks him to present the story to the class as though it were all true. The story makes its way to the internet, and pretty soon a lot of people are talking about Simon and his story.
This movie is close to being intriguing sometimes, but too often lingers in more confusing and preachy territory. It’s told in a very fractured way, presumably meant to keep the viewer guessing at what’s real and what’s fabricated. Though, we’re told pretty early that Simon’s terrorism tale is phony, so the flashbacks showing it unfold are sort of useless.
The story that Simon has substituted his parents into is about a man who tried to use his wife as an unknowing carrier of explosives intending to bring down a large plane on its way to Israel. Putting his parents into this tale is therapeutic for Simon in a way due to the fact that his own parents were killed many years ago in an accident that Simon’s grandfather insists was no accident at all. He says that Simon’s father, Sami (Jenkins), killed himself and Rachel (Blanchard) on purpose.
The problem with constructing the movie like a big mystery is that when there’s nothing very mysterious going on, it feels like a letdown in the end when the small mysteries are revealed. I found myself thinking, “Okay…that’s it? Whatever.”
All the performances are strong throughout, and the encounters between Simon’s angry, emotionally burdened uncle, Tom (Speedman), and Sabine are quite interesting. The weak spots are the internet video chat rooms that we see Simon participating in. There’s a Brady Bunch like split screen of several of his classmates on the computer all at once, throwing out over-written dialogue concerning the morality of Simon’s father’s supposed actions. Those moments don’t seem real at all.
Overall, it’s a well acted, nicely photographed movie with some interesting moments here and there, but too many other moments that seem phony and/or preachy. Too often you don’t hear the characters talking, you hear the writer talking.
If you’re going to try to bring down a plane with explosives, you should probably hide them a little better than just tossing them in the bottom of your wife’s bag.
10 – 2 for being a little too confusing for its own good – 1.7 for a few scenes and dialogue segments that seem phony or overwritten = 6.3