Two Dramas from eOne Films
The Kate Logan Affair (November 4/11)
Written and directed by Noël Mitrani, The Kate Logan Affair follows French businessman Benoit Gando (Laurent Lucas) as he's mistaken for a serial rapist by an inexperienced police officer (Alexis Bledel's Kate Logan) - with Kate's quick realization that Benoit is just a tourist resulting in a series of desperate apologies and, eventually, a date at a local tavern. Kate and Benoit's unusual relationship inevitably blossoms into a full-fledged affair, with the pair ultimately forced to go on the run after an unfortunate mishap involving Kate's service revolver. It is, at the outset, the almost inexplicable nature of Kate's actions that initially captures one's interest, as the character's oddball behavior, ie the aggressiveness with which she pursues Benoit, forces the viewer to wonder just what kind of movie this actually is (ie is this a cop-from-hell thriller? Or simply a low-key drama about a mentally-unhinged police officer?) As time progresses, however, The Kate Logan Affair morphs into a subdued riff on the film-noir genre - as the movie's midsection revolves primarily around Kate's ongoing manipulation of Lucas' mild-mannered character. Mitrani's meandering sensibilities are, as a result, not quite as problematic as one might've feared, with the film's passable atmosphere perpetuated by the captivating work from both Lucas and Bledel. (The latter does an especially strong job of stepping into the shoes of an increasingly calculating figure.) It's ultimately the inclusion of a genuinely shocking plot development at around the one-hour mark that sets The Kate Logan Affair apart from its middling straight-to-video brethren, with the unexpected twist subsequently carrying the proceedings through to its appropriately downbeat finale - which finally (and effectively) cements the film's place as a watchable yet uneven little thriller.
The River Why
Based on the cult novel by David James Duncan, The River Why follows Zach Gilford's Gus as he moves out of his parents' home and buys a cabin in the middle of the woods - with the film primarily detailing Gus' fishing-related exploits and his periodic encounters with a fetching local named Eddy (Amber Heard). Filmmaker Matthew Leutwyler, working from a screenplay by Thomas A. Cohen and John Jay Osborn Jr, has infused The River Why with an excessively deliberate pace that proves disastrous, with the hands-off atmosphere compounded by an ongoing emphasis on the protagonist's aggressively low-key day-to-day activities (eg he fishes, he admires the scenery, etc, etc). It doesn't help, either, that such moments are accompanied by nonsensical, laughably pretentious instances of voice-over narration, with the ridiculousness of Gus' inner thoughts effectively preventing the character from becoming a wholeheartedly compelling figure. (Gus' blandness is certainly preferable to the unreasonable quirkiness of Dallas Roberts' Titus, however.) And although there are a handful of decent scenes between Gilford and Heard's respective characters, The River Why suffers from a pervasive lack of authenticity that inevitably (and ultimately) renders its few positive attributes moot - with Leutwyler's efforts at cultivating an atmosphere of spiritual serenity falling flat on a disappointingly consistent basis.