Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The Loft

So an architect, a software designer, a psychotherapist, a violent drug addict and another guy time-share a loft... already looks like a bad joke, nothing to do here for me.

"The Loft" is a remake of the belgian film "Loft", by the same director, Erik van Looy, starring Karl Urban, James Marsden and Wentworth Miller. It revolves around a group of friends who buy the titular loft together as a refuge from their prying wives... and to have sex with random women. One morning, they find an unknown woman lying dead in their bed and now they have to figure out who did it.

This is a stylish movie. Nobody can take that away from it. The movie is all about sweet interior design, sharp suits and classy parties. It's got some pretty sweet camerawork, with a lot of extreme close-ups, emphasising the mystery aspect of the story, urging you to take a closer look.

Only if you do that, odds are you're not going to enjoy it. The story is so fragmented, in an attempt to confuse the viewer through structure. It works, but not in a good way. The movie basically consists of numerous flashbacks inside of flashbacks. The outer framework is set in the interrogation rooms of a police station, where the five friends are being worked on, trying to figure out what actually happened. Then there are the flashbacks to the same morning, when they found the body and debate who did it and what to do next. And then there are the flashbacks that go all over the place, ranging all across the last year, from the first time they enter the loft up to the actual deed that got them into this pickle. Those go completely unannounced, without any idea why they are important, who's telling their story now, or is anyone?

The movie clearly goes for a "Rashomon" style, hoping that you start to question what the different characters say, start being suspicious of them. However, it does such a poor job of laying out its Red Herrings, throws out all subtlety and puts up big neon signs instead that say: "Did you see that? Might have been him... just saying."

It also never follows up on any of the suspicions it so clumsily tries to sow. So when we find out that one of the characters does not have his key on him, the movie doesn't use that to build mistrust, but instead uses it for one quick burst of anger only to move on to the next thing. This actually happens for every single one of them, like clockwork.

And that's the next point... the characters. They are shockingly one-dimensional. Everyone gets exactly one character-beat and can then repeat that as many times as he likes. There's the womanizer, the drunk, and the white knight, you get the drill. I don't even want to put any blame on the actors, because it's very clear that there are simply no good characters in the script.  The one who gets by far the most out of his character is Mathias Schoenaerts, who is an excellent actor. If you haven't seen him in "Rust and Bone", you need to check that film out, it was one of the best films of 2012. He plays the lowlife half-brother of James Marsdens character, a role that doesn't make that much sense in the setting of the story, but what he does, he does well.

My final point of contention is a bit more specific, going into the story. It's full of plot holes, but this was the worst for me. The movie features a main cast of maybe ten people. The wives hardly count, some of them don't get any meaningful dialogue at all. Instead, time that could have been spent fleshing out the characters is used on setting up this huge false lead. If you don't want to know, skip to the next paragraph, but honestly... so the flashbacks involve a lot of fancy parties, and on every single one of those, we meet either a corrupt city council member, a corrupt real estate agent or both. Might that be a part of the mystery? Well, let me save you the time, it isn't. None of it matters. And seriously, to get to that conclusion, you need about twenty minutes. By the third party, those two are set up as the bad guys so clearly that you know, if you've seen a single thriller before, that they are not guilty. But the movie goes even further than that. They aren't even involved or of any consequence at all. And that's basically the complete first half of the movie. None of it matters even one bit.

And that's about it. A stylish thriller that is not very thrilling and even less satisfying. Use the time that you could have spent on this to watch "Rashomon," a truly great movie that shows you what this movie wanted to be.

No comments:

Post a Comment