Sunday, 17 April 2016

Solace

I recently reviewed Alejandro Amenábar’s Regression, a frustratingly unoriginal and generic thriller about a detective trying to solve a potentially supernatural case. But in my review, I said that while there was nothing really going for it – there was nothing particularly bad either. It was just an empty and completely forgettable waste of time. That isn’t the case with Alfonso Poyart’s Solace, another supernatural thriller which is out now on DVD & Blu-ray. Oh, I’m not saying Solace is good. At all. I’m saying it’s so bad, it’s actually quite funny. 


Academy Award-winning legend of cinema Anthony Hopkins loses what is left of his self-respect to play John Clancy, an old psychic who is enlisted by the FBI for assistance in solving a series of unusual murders being committed by a man named Charles Ambrose (Colin Farrell). You might be thinking to yourself “wow, a thriller starring Hopkins and Farrell, where did this come from?!”. Well, it certainly had a very unusual release. Funnily enough, Solace was originally picked up by New Line Cinema who had the intention of sculpting it into a sequel to David Fincher’s iconic Se7en – and yes, they were going to title it Ei8ht. But David Fincher is a smart man with evidently more artistic integrity than anyone involved in Solace put together, because he turned it down. Shortly thereafter, it was produced as a stand-alone thriller before lying dormant in the Warner Bros. vault for almost two years. It seems like someone discovered it by accident in 2015, thought “shit, I forgot about this” and released it very quickly and quietly with little marketing. 


The main issue with Solace is how far up its own arse it is. Some films are pretentious but they’ve earned that right by being, you know, good. That’s a tall order these days. And Solace…it’s just bloody not. The narrative is bursting with completely two-dimensional characters – primarily our heroes in law enforcement, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Abbie Cornish – who we aren’t even remotely connected to, and so when anything bad happens to them and we’re made to endure a big dramatic sequence, we shrug and don’t care. The cinematography is quite dreadful and it seems like every scene has awkwardly jarring zooms or shaky cam moments that are nowhere near as edgy as I think cinematographer Brendan Galvin had in mind. All this would almost be acceptable if it weren’t for the ‘straight outta film school’ montages we have to watch whenever Hopkins’ psychic has a vision. They’re not artistic, they’re not good; they are pretentious to the point of being hilarious.

Hopkins and Farrell are the highlight here, despite only putting in mediocre autopilot performances. When we finally see them face-to-face, it feels like the epic De Niro/Pacino meet in Heat. And just for a minute, you think “…is this film about to get good?” but then it doesn’t. Damn, so close. Director Alfonso Poyart said “I do not think Solace is a serial killer movie, it is only its outer layer. In the background the film is much more than that, talking about life and death, and raises some interesting moral dilemmas”. Oh Alfonso, I admire your confidence in your work but…just no. Solace is Poyart’s first film in the English language, so we’ll let him off this time. We’re nice like that, aren’t we?


By now, I think you get the point. Solace is no good. It’s totally predictable, unoriginal and generic. It feels like director Poyart hired a bunch of film students, picked up a copy of “Thriller Movies for Dummies” and went for it. And so, to come full circle with my introduction, Solace is a good companion piece to Regression - if you want to have a ‘shit thriller’ night. But while I gave Regression 0 stars for having no redeeming qualities or any reason for existence, at least Solace scrambled together a decent cast. And it’s often pretty (completely unintentionally) funny. 

With that in mind, Alfonso Poyart’s Solace just about gets away with 1/5.

★☆☆☆☆


Sam Love



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