Fascination (July 2/05)
Fascination is an odd, thoroughly bizarre little movie. Writer/director Klaus Menzel has fashioned a film that's equal parts pointless mystery and trashy melodrama. It's essentially a soap opera, and though Menzel tries to liven things up by infusing the film with copious amounts of sleaze, Fascination is just dull.
The story opens with the death of Patrick Doherty (James Naughton), an award-winning swimmer who somehow managed to die while - you guess it - swimming. This obviously raises suspicion with his son, Scott (Adam Garcia), though that's put on the backburner when his mother returns from a vacation with a new boyfriend. Complicating matters is Scott's new relationship with Kelly (Alice Evans), who just happens to be the daughter of his mother's paramour.
Fascination features a fair amount of incredibly banal, stilted dialogue that doesn't even remotely sound authentic (ie "love at first sight is a wonderful thing...happens to me all the time...in my dreams"). Nobody talks this way, and yet Menzel litters his screenplay with similarly inane verbal exchanges. Menzel proves to be far more adept at establishing an appropriately lush ambiance, a vibe that effectively complements the overly theatrical subject matter. Likewise, the actors deliver suitably campy performances, with Garcia and Evans behaving as though they're participating in a Rocky Horror Show revival.
The film's few positive attributes are undermined by the unusually languid pace, something that's exacerbated by Menzel's refusal to give us a reason to care about any of these people or the mess that they're in. Much of Fascination's opening hour is devoted to long sequences in which Scott fruitlessly attempts to figure things out, which might have been intriguing in a better film but just comes off as silly and superfluous. And while the movie does pick up a little as it progresses - particularly as some of the mysteries come to the forefront - Fascination generally vacillates between being utterly ridiculous and flat-out boring.