Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Turn the River: Grade C

Turn the River (2007)
Famke Janssen, Jaymie Dornan, Rip Torn. Writer-Director Chris Eigman.

Janssen is a pool hustler in modern New York City, hanging out at a dingy pool hall run by Rip Torn. She is desperate to “find a game” so she can raise money for fake ID so she can kidnap her own son (Dornan), who lives with his father. The rich father is a mean drunk, the stepmother is clueless, and the meddling grandmother a witch, so the boy is supposed to be unhappy there, making the mother’s kidnap plan seem less selfish and more acceptable to the audience. We don’t know anything about the marriage or divorce, or why she didn’t get alimony or child support, or why the incompetent father got custody. The film shows some nice pool shots, although the camera has to cut away to allow professionals to slip in there and make the spectacular plays shown on the table, so the continuity of the games is not smooth. Still, the movie is about the woman and her child, not really about the game, so that is ok. She raises the money and takes the child. There is no character development and we never really understand her. All the characters are stereotypes, and the acting is only adequate, except for Rip Torn, who is really obnoxious, barking his lines without context as if he were deaf. There is no chemistry among any of the characters, not even between mother and child. But sets, costumes and colors are good, and it is nice to see a woman play the “tough-guy” pool-shark role.

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