by Greg Muskewitz
Either Brad Anderson is a speedy, no b.s. director, or he has a hell of a time getting distribution for his movies. Anderson’s premiere picture was the saggy-draggy, but sometimes enjoyably kooky Next Stop, Wonderland, which surfaced in the summer of 1998. Now with two blips on the map—with Happy Accidents and Session 9—at least his name is a bit stickier.I’ll only get around to dealing with one of the movies here, the former, as I still haven’t gotten around to seeing the cryptically titled “horror” flick. The title of this genre-less movie comes from a quote by Vincent D’Onofrio, who might or might not be a time traveler, as he explains to Marisa Tomei how he saw her picture in the future—it was a “happy accident of fate and chance.” Maybe genre-less is a half-truth. It does have one categorizing label that could serve as refuge, but because of the rest of the idiosyncratic eponymies, its protection in chick-flick land would hardly contain any errant behavior. That aspect of Happy Accidents is its most frustrating, but the rantipole and droll twist that it plays with, not asking is he delusional or is she delusional, but which one is the most delusional. Anderson doesn’t, however, have anything new up his sleeve in narrative technique; he simply starts off with an event in progress, an event out of context—in this case during one of many visits to Ruby’s (Tomei) shrink—to trace back to the unrealisticness of her boyfriend’s storytelling and introducing to us, of course, what she has faced hitherto. Naturally, as one might suspect, nearly three-quarters of the way through, that premiere scene is eclipsed and taken beyond to answer the question on our mind: Is he truly from the future, having escaped the Gene ‘Dupes, anachronists from 2470, to save her life? Or is he an in-patient on the outside with a brow-cocking tale that is so elaborate that no one in their right mind could train such an imagination? That toying with your mind, and the cogent argument bandied back in both courts is what amounts to keeping it fresh and patible, and still propitiatious. Otherwise, the lovey-dovey one minute and the heckling-jekylling volatility the next minute, provides comprehensive time for welcoming yourself into a monotonous melodrama of familiarity, in correlation with Anderson’s cheaply conducted PhotoShop skill editing and transitions. The one gain that comes out of Tomei’s volcanic-volatility is that she goes have the chance to show off some of that Oscar-winning talent and emotion, however unctuous it grows, as well as some hilarious moments that come out of her psychiatric counseling (“I have a therapist to answer to!”). Everything else is like cotton candy; once it gets wet, it melts away.
"There are no such things as bad coincidences."
With a colorful, but unlawfully under-used supporting cast of Holland Taylor (effective as the psychiatrist), Nadia Dajani, Tovah Feldshuh, Sean Gullette and Tamara Jenkins (the director of Slums of Beverly Hills).Final Verdict: B-.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=3910&reviewer=172
originally posted: 09/17/01 13:32:57