Every Breath You Take MA, 105 minutes, 2 stars
Now, at least in my city, cinema capacities are back to the pre-COVID days, which makes a trip to the movies more possible and more palatable than it has been in over a year.
What a pity then that a film so insubstantial as Every Breath You Take is up on that board over the heads of the candy bar kids for you to possibly choose.
It does look great. It has an Oscar winner, it has Finnick from The Hunger Games, it has Michelle Monaghan who is just spectacular in everything. The poster looks sexy and intriguing, and it takes its title from that Police song so you just kinda know what it's going to be about.
All of these things are true.
But like those contestants racing against the clock on the first episodes of MasterChef, hoping to win themselves an apron, having all the right ingredients doesn't always come together into a perfect dish.
Manchester by the Sea Oscar-winner Casey Affleck plays wealthy psychiatrist and university lecturer Phillip. On the surface his life looks perfect, his home an enormous structure on a lake with majestic mountains and forests all around.
He has a stunning wife Grace (Monaghan) and a feisty teenage daughter Lucy (India Eisley), though as the film opens we also learn of the loss and pain that sits underneath their apparent idyll, as their son Evan (Brendan Sunderland) is killed in a car accident.
Phillip and Grace seem to be surviving this trauma by not ever discussing it, and keeping their interactions very polite and on-the-surface, and Phillip channels his energies into his work.
One particular work success is his client Daphne (Emily Alyn Lind) who has found the strength to move away from an abusive boyfriend, and whose case Phillip uses in his lectures as a means to discuss his novel psychiatric technique, where he got Daphne to open up about her traumas by sharing his own.
When Daphne takes her own life, her brother James (Sam Claflin) comes into their lives, attempting to befriend Phillip, asking realtor Grace to help him sell Daphne's house, and reaching out to the rebellious Lucy.
It isn't long, however, before the new arrival overstays his welcome.
Every Breath You Take is a spectacular looking film, shot in the moody and atmospheric landscapes of British Columbia by Michael Merriman. This is his first feature in the cinematographer's seat with plenty more to come judging from his work here. But good looks aside, this film is a bit of a mess, and it is hard to suspend your disbelief when so many questionable things are happening up on screen.
I'm sure Affleck is making some acting decisions when his apparently professional shrink and communicator spends most of the film silent, and with us struggling to understand his intentions. Perhaps this is to add to the film's sense of mystery.
Claflin positively chews up the scenery in a role that must have been fun to play but that throws up a few red flags if you're looking for some common sense from David Murray's screenplay. It's a script that has had some really big names attached to it over the years but who have walked away for various reasons.
I'd posit that reading the script was high on those list of reasons.