Starring Kate Bosworth, Wes Bentley, Olivia Rose Keegan
Directed by Michael Polish
Waking up after a bender and not being able to remember the previous night is enough of a frightening prospect, but suffering memory loss after an accident, and not knowing the woman who is taking care of you is claiming to be your wife…well, that’s a bedwetter all in itself.
From director Michael Polish comes Amnesiac, an interestingly crafted drama/mystery that takes the idea of cranial blackout to a completely terrifying level. Holding the directorial position allows you to make certain choices that can either enhance or detract from the product that you are presenting, and in this case, Mr. Polish chose a lead actress that was as close to him as any other thespian on the planet: his own wife, Kate Bosworth (who also served as an executive producer). In that personal and professional choice, I can say I found it both a refreshing change, and a perplexing one at the same time. Bosworth plays a character simply titled as “the woman,” and she is the spouse of “the man” – seems appropriate, doesn’t it? Anyhow, that man in question is portrayed by Wes Bentley, and as the film opens, we see our couple in the front seat of their car, and a teenaged girl (Keegan) in the back seat. In the blink of an eye the threesome has been involved in a violent crash, and we shoot to the man with a massive amount of blood streaming down his face, with no sight of either female in the car…ooh, this is gettin’ good!
The man awakens to find out from his wife that he’s suffered a traumatic brain injury, and he’s going to need some serious rest – his initial fear is cemented when he can’t remember who this woman is, or how he ended up in this big ol bed, in this mansion-esque like domicile. The woman is eerily serene throughout her caretaking activities, and amid questioning him about if he remembers anything, she randomly drops useless nuggets of information in his lap like, “did you know that it costs more to make a bottlecap than the bottle itself?” – thanks for that intriguing tidbit of knowledge, ya kook! The man tries in vain to remember pieces of his life, and the more his mind works, it starts to form the opinion that this sweet, caring, trivia-infused darling of a wife might not be who she claims to be. As the movie rolls on, we see glimpses of her temper when challenged, and for an actress like Bosworth, this was fun to see her in a Kathy Bates-like role, but in the same context, she’s always been the cutie-pie in the movies, and it honestly took a while to recognize her in the guise of a controlling head-case with a penchant for violence. Ah, the beauty of tossing typecasting out the window, and hats off to Polish for a bold move!
One of the film’s major downsides is the terribly short runtime, and so much more could have been accomplished with another 15-20 minutes of footage attached, but it’s not the nail in the coffin. A little more delving into the characters’ stories would have aided in the formation of the plot as well, but these are just me nitpicking (as always) – for such a small roster of actors, there was a decent tempo to the film, and everyone involved emitted a raw sense of emotions – Bentley scores high marks for playing a confused soul, who quickly turns to skepticism as a brace, and Shashawnee Hall as a less-than-enthused detective is fun to watch, giving off the odor of a professional who deals with missing people on a daily basis, but seems impassive about the work. All in all, Amnesiac is a worthwhile watch that will turn some heads with its frightening possibilities, and should fit nicely on a collector’s DVD shelf when it hits the market.