Review - The Guardian


Last Update: 10 October 2001


Source: The Guardian

02 October 2001


Breaking the Michael

Mr Zeta Jones plays a shrink with a horrifying deadline, says John Patterson in his weekly look at US releases

I'm developing a new fondness for Michael Douglas, now that he's getting all menopausal and wrinkly.

His past few projects have seen him backing slowly away from his vigorous action-drama persona.
In his latest film, Don't Say a Word, Douglas plays another of his middle-class family men under pressure: a Manhattan psychiatrist whose eight-year-old daughter is kidnapped by Sean Bean. Bean wants to plumb the troubled mind of Elizabeth (Brittany Murphy), an 18-year-old patient of Douglas's, to disinter a six-digit number buried under the many layers of her psychic disorder. He gives Douglas eight hours to achieve this if he wants his daughter back.

What Bean is after is surprisingly dull: a gem worth $10m, a prize that seems as minor and irrelevant as any Hitchcock Maguffin. More of the Master's hallmarks can be found in the psychiatric scenes which, much like those in Spellbound and Marnie, rely on dime-Freud cliches such as the need to revisit the moment of psychic calamity to recover.

Fortunately for us, said calamity took place on New York's Hart Island, better known as Potter's Field, the city's place of interment for its unknown and indigent dead. Revisiting it makes for a memorably spooky denouement. Director Gary Fleder, who made the middling serial killer movie Kiss the Girls, is a safe pair of hands, and Don't Say a Word is unpredictable enough to keep the viewer on their toes for most of its length.

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