Review: “Solace”

Posted by Michael Parsons on December 16, 2016 in / No Comments

 

So this psychic hooks up with the FBI to catch a serial killer… oh, you’ve heard this one before?

But wait, there’s more. “Solace” is almost a carbon copy of David Fincher’s “Se7en”. Except instead of killing people for their sins, this psycho is mercy-killing the terminally ill.

But hold on, here’s the interesting part: according to Cinema Blend, “Solace” was a spec script that at one point was intended to be a sequel to Fincher’s 1995 thriller. That idea got scrapped and now, many years later, the finished product is strikingly similar  to the film it was meant to succeed.

What’s more, the film stars the grandaddy of the genre. If we’re talking about neo-noir psychological thrillers, Hannibal Lecter is clearly its greatest icon. Sir Anthony Hopkins is not the villain here, rather a psychic doctor reluctantly tapped to aid in the investigation. He figures out early that his opponent is another, even more gifted psychic (Colin Farrell).

Clancy, who’s been in seclusion since the death of his daughter from leukemia, takes FBI agents (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish) on a circuitous route to the answers. As we find out, things are destined to happen no matter what anybody does about anything. I guess that’s the trouble with psychics trying to outwit one another. Like trying to look at the back of your head in the mirror.

Dr. Clancy’s visions are vague and repetitive, with imagery galore, alluding to religion (playing God is the theme) solace-2015-cover-large as subtly as a Marilyn Manson video. It turns into a broken record–a real taste of hell. Excise about 5 minutes of that, and “Solace” gets an extra star simply for ceasing to be painful.

The flick wasn’t very well received on its long journey to a limited release, but I’m actually going to defend it, despite being derivative and periodically convulsion-inducing. What saves the movie? Colin Farrell.

The good: It is well-written (Sean Bailey, Ted Griffin) and well-acted (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Abbie Cornish). Director Afonso Poyart (“Two Rabbits”) wasn’t done any favors in the editing room,  and he does have a good sense of space and ambience. But where he does  the best is with the Hopkins/Farrell dynamic in the third act, which not only saves the movie from going straight to the bargain-bin, it changes it altogether.

The bad: NCIS quality crime-scene flashbacks/forwards border on maddening. Not only are they unnecessary, but they are unnecessary twelve times. Come on.

So, if you’re in the mood for a little “Dead Zone” meets the step-cousin-once-removed of “Se7en”,  this might be for you. Just muscle through the awful MTV filler bits, and you’ll find a decent thriller with a pretty cool history.

Washington, DC – Opens Today at AMC Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria

–M. Parsons

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Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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