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Thursday, April 1, 2021

Movie Reviews: New Releases for March 31 - April 2

Godzilla vs. Kong, French Exit, Every Breath You Take and more

Posted By on April 1, 2021, 9:00 AM

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click to enlarge Casey Affleck and Sam Claflin in Every Breath You Take - VERTICAL ENTERTAINMENT
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  • Casey Affleck and Sam Claflin in Every Breath You Take
Every Breath You Take **1/2
Occasionally, after decades of watching way too many movies, it so happens that I’ll come upon a narrative where after just a few minutes, I’m 90 minutes ahead of where it’s eventually going to take me. Such was the case with this psychological thriller about Seattle psychologist Philip Clark (Casey Affleck) and his family—wife Grace (Michelle Monaghan, reuniting with her Gone Baby Gone co-star Affleck) and teenage daughter Lucy (India Eisley)—whose lives are shaken when one of Philip’s patients commits suicide, and the patient’s brother, James (Sam Claflin) becomes entangled with all of them. There’s a traumatic back-story for the Clark family involving a young son killed in a car accident, and screenwriter David Murray gives Affleck and Monaghan some material to work with exploring how the Clarks’ unhealed wounds make them particularly vulnerable. But it’s always clear that this is, at heart, a “[fill-in-the-blank] from hell” story, told at a pace that creeps along towards developments that are alternately inevitable or implausible. It all leads to a third-act revelation that plays out on screen like it should be a jaw-dropper—director Vaughn Stein’s camera zoom-in on someone’s dawning realization is the tip-off—but feels entirely obvious for the majority of the movie. For those who don’t watch 300 movies a year, your mileage may vary. Available April 2 in theaters and VOD. (R)

French Exit ***
See feature review. Available March 31 in theaters. (R)

Godzilla Vs. Kong **1/2
See feature review. Available March 31 in theaters and via HBO Max. (PG-13)

Roe v. Wade *
Let’s assume for a moment that every piece of information provided by the filmmakers about the story behind the landmark 1973 Supreme Court abortion-rights decision is factually accurate—and based on all the receipts they lay out during the closing credits, that’s very important to them. And assume further that there’s nothing inherently problematic about ideologically stacking the deck when telling the story of a controversial subject. What we’re left with then is the ineptitude of the film itself. It’s told from the point of view of Dr. Bernard Nathanson (Nick Loeb, who co-wrote the screenplay and co-directed with Cathy Allyn), the pioneering abortion provider who in later years became a staunch pro-life advocate, as he reflects on the circumstances leading up to the case. Here is a movie where characters are introduced by their full name and C.V. (“Well well well, if it isn’t The Feminine Mystique author Betty Friedan”)—you know, like people do. Here is a movie where Loeb’s voice-over provides non-stop reminders about the math involved in the SCOTUS justices voting (“That meant it would be a 5-4 vote … which meant we would lose!”). Melodramatic strings play every time a pro-life character is making a point, and 15 minutes never passes without a reminder that doctors who provide abortions—get this—make money by doing so. Considering the likelihood that anyone watching this movie already agrees with Loeb and Allyn morally and politically, you’d think they wouldn’t treat that audience, on a minute-to-minute basis, like they’re idiots. Available April 2 via VOD. (PG-13)

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