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‘Lakewood’ Review – The Hollywood Reporter

The kind of serious, well-intentioned embarrassment that some reasonable viewer would find morally uncomfortable and urgent, by Phillip Noyce Lakewood Turn a studio into a horror movie built around a woman and her cell phone. Had some success with an actor and a phone in 2010 Burial, writer Christopher Sparling returns to the well, trapping her protagonist (Naomi Watts) in the woods as she tries to find out if her son is alive or dead. A case study of how storytelling can sabotage a vulnerable display of courage, the film addresses American parents’ deepest fears but is only a step or two away from inviting. call ritualized community ridicule, à la Room, at midnight screenings.

Watts plays Amy, whose husband passed away nearly a year ago. His teenage son Noah (Colton Gobbo) has endured a particularly difficult loss, and this morning he was pretending to be sick so he could skip school and be subjected to constant harassment there. After encouraging him to get out of bed and into class, Amy began jogging through the nearby woods.

Lakewood

Key point

A truly horrifying script that makes people almost laugh with its confusing storytelling.

Meeting: Toronto Film Festival (Gala presentation)

Cast: Naomi Watts, Colton Gobbo, Sierra Maltby, Debra Wilson, Woodrow Schrieber, David Reale

Manager: Phillip Noyce

Writer: Christopher Sparling

1 hour 24 minutes

Making a series of phone calls and automated reminders while she runs, Amy reminds me of one of the truths that so few people seem to know: If you’re texting and walking (or calling when driving or googling while watching a movie), you’re doing two bad things when you could do one well. However, this habit of dividing attention is annoying to watch. But think twice before the desire for real action begins.

Even a viewer who avoids reading diaries before seeing the movie will know well what’s in store when he sees Amy’s first police car race on this tree-lined street. But it took her a while to realize that the community’s crisis could also be her own. Her phone rings with a warning: Local schools, including her daughter’s elementary school, are on lockdown following the shooting at Noah’s high school. After several minutes of heartbreak, Amy is terrified to learn that Noah has indeed gotten out of bed and arrived on her campus. Apparently she was too far from home to jog back to her car, so she began trying to find a way to the community center, where authorities were reuniting parents with their children. .

Less preoccupied with this quest than she is, viewers will think about hints that Noyce and Sparling have overlooked: Maybe Noah in trouble is the boy with the gun.

In this variant on screen based cinema (Searching et al.), the viewer is liberated from the digital device to become Amy’s entire world. As she made call after call, using maps and cycling apps, we watched the treetops take on the striking fall colors in John Brawley’s photo. We can anticipate what Amy won’t do: for example, a sprained ankle that forces her to limp along for most of the movie.

Trying to simultaneously get out of the woods and piece together exactly what’s going on with her son, Amy enlists to listen to strangers talking on the phone in increasingly distant ways. The moment when she asks a mechanic at a garage to keep an eye on her son – “if you see a brunette…” – for this viewer, is the moment when the comedy doesn’t Intention raised his head. Extreme grief and despair cause people to do and say unreasonable things; in a movie, that ridiculousness can hurt you, but only if we don’t feel manipulated. With so many of Sparling’s scenarios seemingly designed to artificially complicate an already dire situation, you might start to worry that Amy will come near the edge of the woods, seeing her son’s school within walking distance, and was surrounded by Bigfoot before she escaped the trees.

The final act abandons the realism we think the movie is aiming for, ridiculously positioning Amy as a negotiator, balancing two phones to make a four or five-way call with a SWAT team in the wing. Isn’t Amy’s predicament horrifying enough without the traps of Hollywood horror and action movies?

As in recent times Penguin Bloom, Watts gives her all the questionable material, and in this case, her director is a veteran with many great films of the same name. But it’s not enough to sell this fundamentally flawed movie, especially when it culminates with the apparently nauseating “This has to stop!” Messages about school shootings.

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