Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Method (DVD) (2004)

The saying goes, there's no such thing as a bad film, only a badly made film. I humbly submit Method to you as my sole exhibit to prove my case. To be up front with you, Method is a failure of a film. It's not a failure because of its premise, which is simply: "(Method) actor immerses herself too deeply in role, becomes the serial killer she portrays". You see, the premise is a bunch of hokey, but in the right hands (director, scriptwriter, actors), it could turn out to be high camp or excellent drama (see Willem Dafoe and John Malkovich in Shadow of the Vampire). In the able hands of Brad Wyman, Katie L Fetting, and Elizabeth Hurley, though, the result is more of an accidentally-funny farce of a thriller, and a valuable lesson for all aspiring directors, scriptwriters, and actors. Join me now as we gaze upon the destruction that the merrily untalented trio have wrought... so that you can solemnly swear never to repeat their errors when it's your turn to make a movie. Or decide to rent, borrow, or buy this DVD.

The director: Now, if you have a premise like this, you'd want to make sure that the movie looks credible. But there's no way you can achieve that if we keep seeing over the top hallucinatory sequences where the actress is brainwashed by her imagination of the dead serial killer character she's supposed to play, mixed with over the top fantasy sequences where the actress may or may not be killing off extras and cast members on the set in a fit of dotty madness, and further mixed with very cheesey period footage of the "film" within the film of the movie about the serial killer. In general, any one of these elements will turn a good thriller into a joke; congratulations to Brad Wyman for hitting the jackpot thrice!

The writer: You could either write a deliberately bad thriller movie or you could write a good thriller about an actress losing her mind on the set of a very bad movie. If you wanted to do the former, you'd have the dialogue in the period film within a film be as stilted, cheesey, and elaborate as the dialogue in the rest of the film, but you'd do it with a heavy sense of self-aware humour. If you wanted to do the latter, you'd have to make sure that the actual movie outside the period reenactment is free of over-the-topness. Katie L Fetting succeeds in avoiding both, and creates a mess of a script.

The star: Unfortunately, Elizabeth Hurley is not an actress. More unfortunate for the viewer of the DVD is the painfully obvious fact that she isn't even a performer. She can't even pull off an impression of a bad actress, not to say a woman on the brink of madness.

Reviewer's advice: This film could have been saved if some other character were cast in this role, or if the writer were smart enough to realise that by injecting completed, post-production footage of the film-within-the-film, it implies a certain sort of conclusion about the film. This movie is perfect for a bunch of oversmart movie buffs in need of a great laugh and a fun party game (drink a beer whenever you spot a script/directing crime!).

First published at incinemas on 17 April 2007

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