It’s fitting that Grant Singer opens reptile, his meandering feature debut, with an “Angel of the Morning” needle drop. Chip Taylor composed this painful melody about a one-night stand because he wanted to capture a passionate and fleeting feeling. “It was indescribable,” he said said of the 1967 song. “And that’s the power.”
Like Taylor, Singer reaches for the indescribable. The director, who has made music videos for pop music royalty, is obsessed with controlling the atmosphere and setting the mood. He pushes himself reptile with gripping sequences, exciting moments, dramatic pauses and surprising lightness – elements that, despite being overused, keep the audience on their toes and strategically blur the boundaries between dreams and reality. A malevolent score by Berlin-based composer Yair Elazar Glotman, with assistance from Venezuelan musician Arca, helps calibrate this tension and adds to the film’s overall mysterious atmosphere.
An atmospheric procedure that exceeds his expectations.
There is no doubt about the way it is done reptile In the first half it becomes clear that Singer is a talented director. But the restraint is entirely appropriate, and the helmer, who co-wrote his screenplay with Benjamin Brewer and the film’s lead actor, Benicio Del Toro, doesn’t do enough here. To prove his cleverness, reptile in the second half it rattles, rattles and stumbles. The tricks that initially impressed eventually become difficult to endure.
Shortly into the film, Summer, a young real estate agent (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz) haunted by her secrets, is murdered. Her boyfriend Will (an unconvincing Justin Timberlake), the heir to a real estate empire, discovers her body in the bedroom of a house the couple was trying to sell. The page is grisly: Summer with a knife in her collarbone, blood staining the white carpet. With technical efficiency, Singer traces the cracks and grooves of the couple’s dynamics. There are problems in the relationship, but none that cannot be solved.
Naturally, Will becomes the prime suspect in the murder investigation led by Tom (Del Toro). The steely detective recently moved to Scarborough, Maine, after a police investigation into his ex-partner’s corruption damaged his reputation. Tom chose not to betray, a decision that forced him and his wife Judy (Alicia Silverstone) to move. The details of their life in Philadelphia are mentioned briefly and vaguely, but it is clear that the two have adjusted to life in the quiet New England city. They are currently renovating their kitchen, a lengthy and complex process that causes many problems reptileThe funniest jokes.
Del Toro plays Tom with a successful combination of severity and gentleness, moving reliably and with believable ease between these two modes. The detective enjoys respect from his new colleagues – rookie partner Dan Cleary (Ato Essandoh), the police chief (Mike Pniewski), the captain (Eric Bogosian) and another officer, Domenick Lombardozzi (Wally) – but is also obsessed with it to find the perfect kitchen sink. The dichotomy embellishes his character, whose job requires embodying strict masculinity and making morally dubious decisions. Silverstone’s performance – emphasizing an unwavering loyalty underpinned by a puckish sense of humor – fits well with Del Toro’s. The relationship between their characters, captured in the couple’s domestic banter and their dates, is one of the more enjoyable aspects of the film.
Singer structures reptile like a normal police procedural. Tom begins his investigation by arresting the usual suspects: Will, Summer’s ex-husband Sam (Karl Glusman), and Eli (Michael Pitt), a conspiratorial loner who hates Will’s family. The director gradually reveals the motivations of the individual characters, but also repeatedly turns established conclusions on their head. reptile enjoys subverting expectations. The dramatic cuts and jumps between scenes (edited by Kevin Hickman) and the menacing sound design grab attention and heighten fear. You can’t trust anything or anyone.
The death of a key witness comes to a head reptileis at stake, and the film morphs into a more complicated story about power and corruption. The closer Tom believes he is to solving the mystery, the stranger and trickier the connecting threads become. The expansion of the plot takes the narrative in some compelling directions, but also exposes its weaknesses.
reptile struggles to justify its running time of more than two hours. Things start to sag in the middle, and the techniques that made for a dynamic first half border on parody in the second. You can only take so many shots of cars driving along conifer-lined highways or characters running through intimidating hallways before you lose patience with the director.
The same leniency applies to Singer’s approach to sound and music. The abrupt starting and stopping of the songs at the beginning works because it helps convey the dark mood that the singer so skillfully creates. But ultimately he relies too much on the pinpricks and booming sound effects that accompany us between crucial moments. The approach dampens the effect; Each new scene feels like a red herring. When these little things start acting as gimmicks, it’s easy to forget what the film was trying to say.