'Amnesiac': Film Review

XLrator Media
An odd and unaffecting hostage film.

Kate Bosworth plays a suspiciously attentive wife to Wes Bentley's amnesia-struck husband.

A home-captivity picture boasting all the implausibility associated with that genre and nearly none of the thrills, Michael Polish's Amnesiac casts Wes Bentley as an accident victim who doesn't remember if the woman tending to him (Kate Bosworth) is his wife or not. Working for the second time without his brother Mark Polish, the director takes what should be a much more commercial tack than he did in 2013's Jack Kerouac film Big Sur. But the would-be thriller is lifeless enough and bedeviled by enough peculiarities that, stars notwithstanding, commercial prospects are dim.

We first glimpse the two actors (their characters are never named) in what seems to be a 1960s period piece, as a nervous couple who wreck their car while paying too much attention to the daughter in the back seat. Bentley awakens in their house, an airless abode whose decor and appliances date to the same era, but he is hooked up to modern-day hospital equipment — watched over by an unscathed Bosworth, who tells him doctors have diagnosed him with a brain injury.

Viewers expecting this very distracting contradiction to have an intriguing payoff (maybe they're cult members who live in isolation from the modern world?) should try to get beyond that hope. Though we eventually hear one cop tell another that their car hasn't been registered since the '60s, nothing like an explanation for their time-capsule home life is attempted by the film. And an explanation for what's about to happen in the house only comes in the closing minutes. While we're waiting, we watch a nearly affectless Bosworth nurse the increasingly suspicious Bentley back to health while clearly trying to keep something or other hidden from him.

As she tries to distract him with oddball bits of trivia (if these are intended as comic absurdity, they land with a thud) it becomes clear that this man, for whatever reason, is a prisoner. Cutaways to a generic police department, where a series of one-sided phone conversations make for a weirdly cheap expository device, create the sense that his imprisonment is tied to some greater crime. But well before we understand that connection, Bosworth is going over the edge, committing grisly crimes in her starched dress and pearls.

One wonders, watching this fur-coat clad woman hack apart a corpse, if screenwriters Mike Le and Amy Kolquist thought they were writing a campy horror comedy. Polish would seem an odd choice as director if so, one whose offbeat sensibilities mesh badly with this unconvincing tale of maternal derangement.

Production company: Infra-Red Films

Cast: Kate Bosworth, Wes Bentley, Shashawnee Hall

Director: Michael Polish

Screenwriters: Mike Le, Amy Kolquist

Producers: Jason Price, Lucas Jarach, Richard Halpern

Executive producers: Kate Boswroth, Gary Preisler, Larry Guterman, Alan Pao, Corey Large, Grant Guthrie, Jeff Rice, Sydney Holland, Erik Fleming, Gary Becker, Adam Moryto, Aleks de Carvalho, Michael Kay, Jacob Pechenik, David Gendron, Eric Brenner

Director of photography: Jayson Crothers

Production designer: Adam Henderson

Costume designer: Lynette Meyer

Editor: Tim Alverson

Music: Aleks de Carvalho

Casting directors: Mark Tillman, Lee Broda

No rating, 84 minutes

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