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Overall Rating
3.86

Awesome40.91%
Worth A Look: 31.82%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 27.27%
Total Crap: 0%

2 reviews, 10 user ratings


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Dot the I
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Even M. Night Shyamalan would have trouble swallowing this."
2 stars

The good news about the twist-filled thriller “Dot the I” is that most viewers probably won’t be able to predict the shocking developments that occur about an hour into and which will force them to reevaluate everything that they have seen up to that point. The bad news is that the reason that they wouldn’t have anticipated them is because they are so blitheringly stupid and unlikely that they couldn’t have possibly believed that anyone in their right mind would have ever attempted to get away with such utter nonsense. This is the kind of out-of-nowhere development that even M Night Shyamalan himself might have deemed ridiculous and unlikely.

The film stars Natalia Verbeke (whom you probably didn’t see in the charming Spanish musical “The Other Side of the Bed,” although you really should have) as Carmen, a hot-tempered Spanish woman who has fled an abusive relationship in her homeland and is now living in London with the dull-but-dependable Barnaby (James D’Arcy). As the film opens, Barnaby proposes to her and, in celebration, she goes out for a night on the town with her girlfriends for a so-called “hen party”. One part of the celebration involves her picking a strange man at random for her last kiss of freedom before marriage and the lucky dope she selects is Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal). To her surprise, this smooch contains more genuine passion than she has ever felt before with Barnaby and, scared, she runs away into the night.

Carmen tries to put Kit and his kiss out of her mind but finds it impossible, especially when he seems to begin turning up everywhere she goes. On the plus side, it begins to seem that he, and not Barnaby, may be her soul mate after all–he is kind, somehow knows her favorite book (“Chronicle of a Death Foretold,” which may or may not be a symbol) and looks like Gael Garcia Bernal. On the minus side, she also begins to get the sneaky suspicion that she is being followed around wherever she goes–could it be Kit or the psycho ex-boyfriend or somebody else. Eventually, she has to make a choice between passion (Kit) and security (Barnaby) and, surprisingly, chooses security for once by marrying Barnaby.

You may think that I have given away a crucial plot development but I haven’t. After that scene, which occurs at about the halfway point, is when the real twists and surprises begin to occur. At first, it comes as a relief because to that point, the film has kind of plodded along without much purpose or energy and with only the considerable charm and chemistry of Verbeke and Bernal. However, once the twists begin, they are so implausible and ludicrous that they destroy whatever trace elements of suspense or intrigue that writer-director Matthew Parkhill has managed to develop. Once the big bombshell has dropped, its sheer insanity completely divorces the viewer from the proceedings and all they can do is sit there agape and wonder if the storyline can possibly get any sillier. To their dismay, they will discover that it can and does.

Look, I don’t have an inherent problem with wild plot twists in screenplays–my adoration for the works of Brian De Palma should be more than adequate proof of that. What I insist on, however, is that the twists play fair with the audience and remain consistent with the logic of the story. A film like De Palma’s “Femme Fatale” may have bizarre plot developments but they at least followed those two particular guidelines. In “Dot the I,” the narrative change-ups feel as if they were simply stuck in so as to goose up an otherwise uninteresting screenplay without any thought to logic or plausibility. With his work here, Parkhill demonstrates that he may be a clever writer but not a particularly intelligent one–once he pulls his big switcheroo, he has nowhere else to go and about 30 minutes of running time to kill.

Since he has already demonstrated that we can’t believe anything that we have seen up until that point, there is no reason to buy into the rest of the story and therefore, the final scenes of “Dot the I” are shocking only in how anticlimactic they are. It’s a bit of shame because while he may be deficient as a writer, Parkhill is smooth and efficient at telling his story in visual terms. The actors do what they can but they are hampered by the simple fact that they are playing puppets that are being jerked around by the whims of the screenwriter. This can be fun, I suppose, if you are the screenwriter–much less so, alas, if you are just a poor schmuck in the audience who is not only getting jerked around, but paying for the privilege.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6809&reviewer=389
originally posted: 04/15/05 14:28:36
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

5/26/07 ilona can anyone tell me the spanish quote they mention in the movie connected with the title? 5 stars
5/09/07 Nic WOW what a way to engaged an audience bernal outstanding performance 5 stars
5/07/06 Nicole The plot was engaging, but the ending was a bit too out there for me 4 stars
4/06/06 sara simply fantastic, I loved it 5 stars
12/06/05 everyone's a critic some loved it/some hated it - I LOVED it 5 stars
7/24/05 ear of plenty you guys must be Bruckheimer fans. The film was great 5 stars
3/09/05 Dylan Foyle Check this out. What a ride! 5 stars
3/25/04 RoBi Great and totally unpredictable 5 stars
3/12/04 Bernice this movie is great 5 stars
1/30/04 Chrgfan AWESOME!!!!!!!! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Mar-2005 (R)
  DVD: 18-Oct-2005

UK
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