Maple Pictures' May '07 Releases
Resistance (June 3/07)
Based on the novel by Anita Shreve, Resistance casts Bill Paxton as Ted Brice - an American fighter pilot whose plane is shot down over Belgium during the Second World War. He's rescued by a local kid and taken to the home of Claire (Julia Ormond) and Henri (Philippe Volter) Daussois - both of whom belong to an underground resistance movement. As time progresses, Ted finds himself falling for Claire; despite her initial misgivings, a full-blown affair ensues. There's little doubt that Resistance benefits substantially from Paxton's expectedly superb performance, as the film otherwise suffers from a low-rent, sporadically simplistic vibe that ultimately proves impossible to ignore. Writer/director Todd Komarnicki generally places the emphasis on elements of an overtly overwrought nature, and there's consequently never any doubt that the movie is meant to function as a romance first and a wartime drama second. On that level, the movie kind of works; Paxton and Ormond have palpable chemistry together, and it's certainly difficult not to root for their happiness in the face of increasingly unfavorable odds. But the earnestness with which Komarnicki has infused Resistance eventually becomes oppressive; there's a lack of authenticity to the film that essentially ensures that it remains curiously uninvolving throughout its relatively short running time.
Restless Natives (June 4/07)
Lightweight to the point of distraction, Restless Natives follows a pair of Scottish friends (Vincent Fiell's Will and Joe Mullaney's Ronnie) as they become local heroes after embarking on a spree of tour-bus robberies. Ned Beatty co-stars as an inept CIA agent with a grudge, while Teri Lally plays the object of Will's affections. Director Michael Hoffman - working from Ninian Dunet's screenplay - has infused Restless Natives with a laid-back, easy-going sort of vibe that quickly wears out its welcome; there's little doubt that the film's success depends almost entirely on one's ability to accept the central characters' casual descent into crime (viewers unable to swallow this are in for a very long slog indeed). Much of the movie's 90-minute running time is devoted to needless instances of padding, with the most obvious and egregious example of this being an ongoing gag involving Beatty's contentious divorce. And although the whole thing initially coasts on its free-wheeling charm, there comes a point at which it becomes impossible to overlook the mounting contrivances, plot inconsistencies, and flat-out ridiculous elements (ie the guys eventually start accepting credit cards during their robberies). The performances are amiable enough and the cinematography is nice, but really, Restless Natives is ultimately far too slight an affair to warrant a hearty recommendation.