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When a young girl claims everyone is against her, will you believe what she says, what you see, or what everyone else believes?
Review (with Spoilers)
Though perhaps I shouldn’t be reliant on one film, or show, being a reason to take interest in any actor’s career, especially after watching The Quiet Ones, just because of Olivia Cooke, with me seeing a handful of Taissa Farmiga work, I felt confident going in. For, thus far, she hasn’t done a film, or show, in which she was bad, though this isn’t to say the production itself might not have been terrible. So, with this in mind, I gave this a shot.
Characters & Story
One man, John (Mark Strong), who has seemingly gone through the great tragedy of losing his wife and son finds himself trying to return to work since, as bills stack up, he realizes he can’t sit around in self-loathing. So, he tries to go back to work as a “viewer,” someone who looks through a person’s memories, detective style. But, like his personal life, his career is far from perfect. For after transposing his memories onto someone, and having a stroke during the process, he has embarrassed himself to the point the only person his boss, Sebastian (Brian Cox), would trust him in seeing is an old patient of his: Anna (Taissa Farmiga).
With John meeting Anna comes a complex story in which this innocent-faced girl seemingly has the world against her, with the only exception being her mother who seems to be guilt-ridden and ready to throw money at any problem her daughter is part of. But, with one man in jail because of her, a girl with a hole in her throat, and a step-father who seemingly believes she should be committed, for reasons which would possibly benefit him, you are forced to evaluate who is lying, and whether the doe-eyed innocent look of Anna is masking something dark and sinister.
When it comes to a lot of actors and actresses, they usually fight against typecasting in order to create a diverse filmography and show they are capable of doing more than one character archetype. With this film, though, Farmiga plays up her general look of doe-eyed innocence to possibly play you. For as we meet her, get to know her, and go through her memories, you are led to believe that perhaps, as she says, she is the victim. One which dealt with bullies, an abusive step-father, and now is locked up in her room because her step-father wants nothing more than to have her committed so that when her mother dies he can control her inheritance.
But, as convincing as Farmiga is, the story of the film creates a counter-balance which makes you question whether Anna is to be trusted at her word, or if maybe she is more “gifted” than her mother, and step-father, give her credit for. After all, John is surely not the most mentally stable of men, so as much as you want to trust his judgment, you also want to question it at the same time. This combination makes it so that while you’ll likely lean to one side, and then shift to the other, the story keeps you from being able to pinpoint who is right or wrong until the end.
I should note, though, while the mystery is quite interesting, I’m not going to pretend as if this film really pushes itself as a thriller to the point where it will highly perplex you. It certainly does try, and you have to give it to all of those involved for their performances really do help push the idea that, if even for a second, you could be wrong. But, try as it may, using discrepancies, vivid memories from Anna, and a plot twist here and there, the film overall seems to think of itself as more complex than it actually is. Though I will admit, the ending may make you realize that you certainly didn’t know everything.
Overall: TV Viewing
Farmiga and Strong play off each other well to the point they may have your mind go back and forth when it comes to deciding Anna’s innocence. But, the main reason why this is getting the “TV Viewing” label is because this whole scenario of seeing someone try to counsel a disturbed young individual has been done a few times before, and arguably better. So while Anna (Mindscape) does try to craft a good mystery, it sort of gives itself away as if it thinks you would remain guessing until the end of the film. Which, honestly, you might. But, if you have seen many a film like this before, you may get a sense of deja vu.