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  Puritan film noir with a time travel twist
Year: 2006
Director: Hadi Hajaig
Stars: Nick Moran, Georgina Rylance, Pete Hodge, David Soul, Ralph Brown, Steven Atholl, Mark Gilvary
Genre: Horror, Thriller, Romance, FantasyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Simon Puritan (Nick Moran) is a failed writer and phoney spiritualist. Down on his luck, he almost throws himself in front of a speeding train, when a disfigured man saves him. The mystery man is Jonathan Grey and he hires Simon to help his wife Ann (Georgina Rylance) cope with her sister’s death. Simon and Ann hit it off, but he soon discovers she isn’t Grey’s wife, but married to Eric Bridges (David Soul), a sinister self-help guru with connections to organized crime, being investigated by journalist Mickey Conway (Ralph Brown). After they begin a torrid affair, Simon urges Ann to leave her abusive husband, but when he next visits their mansion finds she has stabbed Bridges to death. He concocts a cover-up and arranges to reunite with Ann four months later, but Grey warns she cannot be trusted. Simon grows suspicious when he spies Ann liaising with Mickey and finds himself enmeshed in blackmail, intrigue and an unlikely spot of time travel…

Writer-producer-director Hadi Hajaig’s feature debut is a kind of fantastical film noir. Slow-moving, but compellingly strange, the script is thoughtful and chock full of ideas that are unfortunately expressed vaguely at times or else in clumsily literal ways. The time travel aspect alludes to concepts like sense memory and the Fourth Dimension, and works in subplots involving black magic practitioner Aleister Crowley (Mark Gilvary) and a rock star mistakenly shot by his girlfriend. Occasionally this evokes the meta-fictions of authors like Peter Ackroyd and Paul Auster, but sifting through the densely layered information becomes a thankless exercise after the big twist yields a few contradictions. Matters aren’t helped by Moran’s customary diffidence, nor by the sketchily-drawn characters played by Ralph Brown and David Soul.

Truth be told, it’s the core noir story of a shady lady leading a clueless clod astray that works best, and Hajaig builds his mystery well with teasing details. The film is artfully shot with crimson-drenched cinematography, while Hajaig’s production team yield some evocative wonders out of a low budget. The score by Simon Lambros is similarly intriguing. For all the cleverness on display, the film’s latter third is ultimately rather shallow and doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. It is more likely to leave viewers scratching their heads than standing back in awe.
Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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