Turn The River

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Posted May 15, 2008 in Film

A thuggish Famke Janssen stars in writer-director Chris Eigeman’s gray-toned, overcast debut drama about a gambling tough named Kailey (Janssen) determined to rescue her 6th grade son Gulley (a strong Jaymie Dornan) from the pious jerk (Matt Ross) she boned and briefly married 11 years ago. We’re encouraged to root for their Canada-or-bust escape, though Gulley’s tortured life smiling through church and cotillions seems a hell of a lot better for him then sleeping on pool tables with his mom. Janssen tries to play tomboy since her character hinges on the fact that no one but the audience ever seems to notice she’s smoking hot; in every scene fellow drunks like Rip Torn insist she looks like shit. But no matter how brutishly she smokes a cigarette, her headstrong mess still reads as pure Hollywood nonsense—a great looking dame who’s earned every cent of her life from the poker or billiards table, despite showing little love for either game. Eigeman’s made a film about pool and motherhood that feels bored by both. Dornan’s optimistic child is the only character aware of emotional complexity as he aches to run away with his mom, but gives his flatly cruel father and snide Christian grandma (Lois Smith) more empathy than does even the script. As all the grown ups are boneheads besides the undeveloped Marin Hinkle as Gulley’s naive step mom and Torn’s pool-hall owner, we’re left after this terse and anxious film knowing nothing more about the world than that Janssen looks cool bending over and glaring at the eight-ball. (Amy Nicholson)

 


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