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Laura Linney and Richard Gere

 
 
July 2002                                                         SITE MAP   SEARCH
The Mothman Prophecies
cast: Richard Gere, Debra Messing, Laura Linney, Will Patton, and Nesbitt Blaisdell

director: Mark Pellington

119 minutes (PG-13) 2002
Columbia Tristar NTSC video rental

RATING: 4/10
reviewed by Jen Johnston
I have always been mildly critical of Richard Gere films on the grounds that he is incredibly annoying. I generally spend my time watching his movies by either making sarcastic comments to the amusement of my fellow trapped cinemagoers, or hoping for a meteor to crash into the theatre. The Mothman Prophecies is no change to that trend.
   This is the story of John and Mary Klein (Gere, and Debra Messing from TV's Will & Grace). They are the perfect couple, and madly in love. Driving home after looking at a potential new abode, Mary is startled by a swooping black form encompassing their car. She swerves wildly to avoid it, knocking herself unconscious in the process. Only problem? John didn't see a thing.
   Watching this film, I'm surprised by the feeling that Messing is the superior performer in this movie. Hers are the only genuine moments on screen, but the incredibly poor directing and the badly written script bring her down. She is the only charming character, but as she is never given enough to do in her short time on film the audience never gets a chance to become involved with her, making us disappointed, and making Gere's obsession with her seem forced.
   Gere, with all the natural acting prowess of a salad shooter, drags another promising idea down into the dust with him. As the bereaved husband there was a lot of potential in this role for sadness, anger, frustration. As the reporter trying to get to the bottom of a mystery there was a lot of potential for determination and stubbornness. As the man considering a new relationship there was a lot of potential for wariness, and acceptance. Since Gere's acting abilities are such that he couldn't convey the concept of falling if you pushed him off a cliff, his character is left with nothing to do but mope and be rude.
   Laura Linney (Primal Fear, Congo) whom I generally adore, does her best with the very little she's been given here. Her small-town sheriff shoved into incredible circumstances had the potential to be an amazing female character. Had the script been better, I imagine there could have been moments in this movie that would have explored the attitudes of men towards a woman in a position of power, or even what it might have taken for her to obtain her job. I was honestly hoping for some form of character development, but due to the poor script this terrific actress is never really given the chance to shine.
   The other aspects to this film that have to be mentioned are the cinematography and sound. Done properly these elements can only enhance the tapestry woven by an excellent story. In The Mothman Prophecies they don't serve to do anything but make you long for an Advil. The constant bright flashes, mixed with the fax machine like noises made by the Mothman itself, are at best irritating beyond words.
   Anyone who knows me will tell you that I'm a paranormal geek. (I believe I am at this moment one of the four people remaining who are still watching The X-Files.) If it's got ghosts, aliens, or anything involving something a little 'out there', I'll go, and I'll generally have something nice to say. Not this time though. The Mothman Prophecies has nothing but a mishmash of imagery, a story that never can quite decide where it's going, underused actresses, and the irritant Gere himself to its credit. All you want after seeing this film is to write to him, and ask for the two hours of your time back.
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