Saturday, July 3, 2010


Uncertainty (2009) is a good idea for a movie. In fact it was a good idea when it was called Sliding Doors or Run Lola Run (not to mention the execrable The Butterfly Effect).

Clearly the intention of the coin-flipping opening (see illustration) was to set off a bomb with two fuses. But for such a story to work, there must be actual stakes. Both Sliding Doors and Run Lola Run risked life and happiness. In one story, the couple finds a phone coveted by criminals and must decide whether to make a dishonest buck by trying to sell it to the highest bidder. I will spoil no one's day by telling you they decide not to, and end up no worse off than when they started. In the other story, they can't decide whether to tell the girl's family she's pregnant. There seems to be a slight question hovering over the future of the pregnancy, but that is dispensed with. The worst consequence here will be slight temporary family friction because of a delay in informing them.

It's a shame. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is usually a reliable guarantor of an interesting film. And he has real chemistry with the very beautiful Lynn Collins, who ought to become a movie star if there is any justice in the universe. There is some skill in the filmmakers, but not enough. There is no visual scheme other than the color-coding of the principal characters so that we know which of the alternating episodes we are watching. The dialogue was reportedly improvised and sounds it--that is, it is flat.

The writer-director team, Scott McGehee and David Siegel never seemed to want to convince us that anything about the film mattered except that they got to make it. These two made their debut with an odd film, Suture, in which identical twins were played by actors of two different races. The conceit had no thematic or other resonance that I could discern, and it all played like a private joke. McGehee and Siegel are going to have to let us in on the jokes if they are ever going to become compelling filmmakers.

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