Thursday, January 9, 2014

Passengers, 2008


There is a plane crash. All but five people survive. Claire (Anne Hathaway), a therapist, is asked to counsel the survivors. Predictably, she falls in love with one of them, a young man named Eric (Patrick Wilson), even as the other four mysteriously vanish, and reappear. Are they really missing or are they missing her sessions? her mentor Perry (Andre Braugher) asks pointedly. Claire is unnerved by what's going on around her and that includes Eric's odd behaviour, like standing on a railway track and screaming at an oncoming high-speed train. She digs deeper and is balled over when she finds out the truth behind Eric's secretive nature and her own name among the list of passengers on the ill-fated plane. 

Passengers, directed by Rodrigo GarcĂ­a, is a schizophrenic film; one of those neither here nor there kind of movies. It doesn't help that the survivors including Claire have someone looking out for them. In her case it's her Aunt Toni (Dianne Wiest); in Eric's case it's a dog, a Siberian Husky; someone or something from their past. Half way through the film you think you're getting a whiff of what's going on, or do you really? I didn’t. Questions pop up: who are all these people? Is this in the present or in the past? Are they alive or are they dead? Is this heaven or is this hell? What the hell is going on here?


I have a poor understanding of films about distorted reality. I just don’t get them. People said Shutter Island and Inception were brilliant films made by brilliant directors. I’m sure they were. I saw both the films. Only I understood them better after I came home and read spoiler-rich reviews.

Passengers was the second choice on cable, a switchover from Payback (1999) just when Kris Kristofferson's henchman was smashing Mel Gibson's exposed feet with a hammer. This is what happens when you're spoilt for choice.

20 comments:

  1. I've never heard of this film and I'm probably not too sure if I would want to see it.

    I think I like things to be clear-cut, unambiguous and black and white, as opposed to reading/watching stuff that the outcome is open to interpretation. Do I worry that my conclusion is different to the author's intention....... probably, yes. Should I ? Probably, no.

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    1. Col, I hadn't heard of it either. It came up during a particularly nasty bout of channel surfing. No point in losing sleep or a good read over this film. I like my films "clear-cut and unambiguous" too where everything is spelt out.

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  2. New to me as well, and sounds reaaallly complicated! too old for this I think.

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    1. Mystica, I found it rather confusing. Maybe, I didn't get it where someone else might. There were few notable performances like that of David Morse who plays a pilot. It's always a delight to watch him on screen.

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  3. I enjoyed both shutter island and Inception, but probably would have enjoyed them more if they'd been a bit easier to understand.

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    1. Charles, I could see that both SHUTTER ISLAND and INCEPTION were well-made films except I didn't get either of them. My kids understood them better!

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  4. Memento, a favorite, is about as bewildering as I like to get. Looks like a brilliant cast (David Morse, Andre Braugher, Dianne Wiest) apparently wasted on a hopeless mess of a movie.

    Shutter Island is not one I liked either. If you're going to fool me with appearances, give me Sixth Sense, which totally suckered me in.

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    1. Ron, I think I might have seen MEMENTO on cable. David Morse, Andre Braugher, and Dianne Wiest do more for PASSENGERS than Anne Hathaway and Patrick Wilson. They play amiable characters in most of their films, as they do in this film. THE SIXTH SENSE had me fooled too but I think I got that one better than the others.

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  5. I hven't seen this one but I suspect where this film is heading from some of the other films you are alluding to ... all of which i greatly enjoyed as I often like dreank-like and solipsistic narratives, as long as they play fair that is! Well, i have to see this one now! Thanks Prashant.

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    1. You're welcome, Sergio. I know what you mean. The plot sounds all too familiar, like it has been done before, perhaps differently. I hope you get round to seeing this film and reviewing it.

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  6. Prashant: Did you mean only 5 people survived the crash or that 5 passengers were killed? Whichever way the plot was set up I think I will pass on the movie.

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    1. Bill, I'd a second look at that line and realised just how convoluted it reads. You're right, only five people survive the crash. I guess my confusion over the film reflected in my writing of it!

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  7. Hmmm never heard of this movie. I'm not a big fan of movies that try to trip you up either with their distorted reality. Inception was kind of confusing and like you I read a lot of spoiler rich commentary to get a handle on it. Any movie that requires more than a couple of viewings to understand is one to skip. Oh and an aside: I loved Shutter Island the book but have zero plans to watch the movie. The book does have a surprise ending to it that you probably already know about since you saw the film. All of this is to say if you haven't read the book you should or... not. Some readers hated the ending.

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    1. Keishon, I remember having mixed feelings about the ending of SHUTTER ISLAND too. Of course, it helped that, later, my daughter explained the film to me. I didn't know it was based on a book which I'll now try and read.

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  8. Doesn't sound like I would like it, but I do think Andre Braugher is just the best! If you have access to the old Homicide tv shows, he's in them, and excellent. He's also in a movie I love called Frequency- sort of a time travel film in a way. And he was in a tv show called Men of a Certain Age. Just a terrific actor, I think.

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    1. Nan, I've heard about Andre Braugher's television roles though I've never seen any of them. He is a fine actor, I agree, in the mould of Danny Glover. I don't recall seeing FREQUENCY. A lot of secondary characters come to my notice long after they've been around, and Braugher is one of them.

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  9. I've yet to see all of this one, but I do like (not so much love) what I've seen of it so far...and I didn't much care for MEMENTO (even if it's better than that director's bigger commercial successes since).

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    1. Todd, I'm certain MEMENTO has been shown on Indian cable and it will be re-telecast, as most films are. I'm going to have to see it now.

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  10. I am with Nan, I really like Andre Braugher. I might watch the movie just for him. I had never heard of this either. I suppose with all the movies coming out I should not be surprised. I might like it OK, but not going to seek it out.

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    1. Tracy, I think I first saw Andre Braugher in FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER where he plays an army general. He has a relatively mild role in the film, almost a cameo really.

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