Thursday, October 17, 2013

Movie with Abe: Plush

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
Released October 15, 2013 (DVD)

There are films that are edgy, and some that are just completely out of control. Before helming the first “Twilight” movie, director Catherine Hardwicke made her feature film debut with the intoxicating “Thirteen,” which starred Evan Rachel Wood and Nikki Reed as rebellious teenagers spiraling downwards as they sank further and further into sex and drugs. Her newest film, “Plush,” features characters in similar situations but at a later point in their lives, able to blame their dependence on drugs, alcohol, and sex on their rock star careers. Unlike her first film, “Plush” is tethered to nothing in particular, and gets completely lost as it descends into darkness with its protagonists.

Emily Browning, who starred in Zack Snyder’s “Sucker Punch,” plays Hayley, who introduces the film by recounting her life as a musician and the unfortunate loss of her brother and bandmate to a drug overdose. As she struggles to acclimate back to reality and be there for her husband (Cam Gigandet) and young twin children, she is hypnotized by the appeal of Enzo, her band’s new guitarist. As they gets closer and closer and he begins to show up everyone in her personal life, it becomes clear that something is very wrong, and Hayley is in way over her head.

The film’s dark turn isn’t exactly surprising, considering that it starts with an unexplained brutal murder by rock quarry which foreshadows the eventual creepiness of the second half of the film. Hayley is such a bratty, uninspired main character that it’s hard to feel too sorry for her, but her situation is so miserable that it’s just as difficult not to take pity on her awful situation. Enzo (Xavier Samuel), by contrast, is extremely unlikeable from the beginning, and even if he doesn’t seem fully villainous, he’s definitely off-putting.

Browning seems like she might be a talented actress, but she’s not given much to work with here, and her performance is far from exemplary. Gigandet, while much less oily than usual, brings nothing to the table, and Samuel is downright frightening, and not in a good way, as Enzo. Dawn Olivieri, on the other hand, is the film’s lone saving grace in a small part as Hayley’s manager Annie. “Plush” starts out overenthusiastically, gets melodramatic midway through, and then takes an irreversible turn for the improbable and outright laughable towards its end.


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