Volume 95, Issue 18

Tuesday, October 2, 2001
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Grade-A, Canadian hardcore

Don't spend a dime or waste your time

Zoolander is Ben Stiller-iffic

An emotional trip to the Hearts In Atlantis

Don't spend a dime or waste your time

Don't Say A Word
Michael Douglas, Brittany Murphy, Sean Bean
Directed By: Gary Fleder
1 star (out of five)

By Aaron St. John
Gazette Staff

Don't Say A Word, the new psychological thriller based on an Andrew Klaven novel, must have seemed like the perfect vehicle for Michael Douglas.

Following his acclaimed performances in Traffic and Wonder Boys, it must have made perfect sense for Douglas to take on a more commercial project in to further build on the crest of popularity he's currently riding.

While Don't Say A Word may do that for him, it's an awful film that no one involved with should be proud of.

Douglas plays a prominent New York psychiatrist who takes on a new patient (Brittany Murphy) suffering from a multitude of psychological problems.

Shortly thereafter, Douglas' daughter is kidnapped and her abducters charge him with retrieving a secret number from his patient's head in order to get his daughter back. From there, Douglas rushes around the city attempting to accomplish his mission without involving the police and before the deadline expires.

Don't Say A Word is a fine example of how a movie shouldn't be made.

Predictable, unoriginal and entirely implausible, the film rushes along to its climax without any concern for whether or not the action on the screen makes sense or if the audience has developed any concern for the characters at all.

Director Gary Felder, who has done this kind of film successfully before, most notably with Kiss The Girls, appears to have been unable to keep track of the kind of the film he was making, leading to several disconcerting shifts in tone.

He has also fallen prey to the current line of thinking among many directors that grainy film stock equals edgy filmmaking and uses it to an annoying effect in several scenes.

Felder also manages to leave a few loose ends along the way; for instance, Oliver Platt's character disappears halfway through, without any sort of explanation.

Thankfully, much of the acting is at least a little better. Douglas, who has always been a great actor, does a respectable job. Of course, you can only expect so much, considering what he had to work with.

Sean Bean (Patriot Games, Goldeneye) is quite good as the leader of the menacing kidnappers. Despite the strength of this performance, someone should probably let him know he's on his way to being typecast as the "bad guy of Irish descent."

Don't Say A Word's best performance comes from Brittany Murphy (Clueless, Girl, Interrupted) as the severely disturbed young woman who lies at the centre of the picture. Her portrayal of a person consumed by problems is utterly convincing and, at times, chilling.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is Jennifer Esposito (Summer Of Sam, TV's Spin City), whose depiction of a New York City cop on the trail of the kidnappers is amateurish at best. Her line delivery is horridz and sounds completely forced and unnatural.

Films like this are an insult to the intelligence of the movie-going public. A terrible film saved only by some strong performances from its lead actors, Don't Say A Word should have been called Don't Waste Your Time.

Gazette File Photo
I'LL NEVER TELL YOU... HOW MUCH THIS MOVIE SUCKS. Unless you like predictable, unsuspenseful movies, don't waste your time on this one.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001