Monday, October 1, 2012

Uncertainty: A lesson in how not to write a movie

Uncertainty tells the tale of a two 20 something year olds, Bobby and Kate (played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins) who decide to let a coin toss control some obscure apparently major life choice (or not). From the moment of the toss, done in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, the pair alternate between two timelines, complete with different colored cars and outfits.

In the "Green" timeline, the couple are on their way out of town to visit Kate's family and stop first to pick up flowers and then to rescue a stray dog. Bobby gets strong armed into fixing the family computer so he can make Lost Dog signs while Kate goes outside to talk to her Uncle Diego who doesn't remember coming to see her dance on Broadway.

In the "Yellow" timeline, they are apparently skipping the family to go to a party with friends. Bobby finds a cell phone in the back of the cab they are taking to lunch and decides to start calling numbers hoping to find a friend of the owner. Instead he gets two calls from me claiming it is his phone, one of whom gets shot in front of them (while the other owner tells them over the phone to run before they get shot too). They manage to escape into the subway but when they emerge, "Angry Owner" calls back demanding the phone. When Bobby hangs up and refuses to answer, he calls Bobby's phone (cause Bobby left his own number on several voicemails despite Kate telling him not to). Spotting someone following them they run again into the subway.

At this point I gave up. The movie is beautifully shot and the stars look like they belong together as a couple. But the plot is blah, with the switches between the two timelines having no rhyme or reason. The dialogue is even worse to the point of being painful. And the plot devices. Oh the terribly done plot devices. Starting with the whole bridge scene which makes out like their decision is some great life altering thing but apparently it was simply whether they would go or ditch the trip to Kate's mother's house. Then there's things like Bobby the so called computer expert not knowing until the second trip into the subway that "I think they might be tracking is through our phones". Well no duh. Yeah. You just saw a guy get shot and you don't get paranoid about that right off. Then there was the whole bit when they get to the police. The desk clerk is a total jerk  telling them they have to wait for one particular guy who will be back at some point. And this is after they saw they witnessed a murder. Really, in NYC they don't have dozens of folks, especially at City Hall that can't immediately talk to this couple about a murder they probably have someone actively looking at since it was in the last couple of hours. Or last hour, even they can't tell the same story.

Twenty Seven minutes and I couldn't take it anymore. This movie was pretty but painfully boring. Maybe it looked good on paper, but it is a lesson in what a horrible script sounds like. And not even the skills of Joseph Gordon-Levitt who is one of my indie acting demigods could rescue it. If you are a Joseph fan go check out Inception or for slightly lighter fare try 500 Days of Summer. If you want to see a better done (although still perhaps not perfect) tale of two timelines, watch Sliding Doors. Either way, you'll thank me for it.

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