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Identity /

Rated: R

Starring: John Cusack, Jake Busey, Rebecca De DeMornay, Clea Duvall, Ray Liotta 

Directed by: James Mangold 

Produced by: Cathy Konrad 

Written by: Michael Cooney, James Mangold 

Distributor: Columbia Pictures


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     To be completely honest, the three buckets that Iím granting Identity are very generous ones. This film really isnít that great, but I enjoyed my time watching it. Last year, I probably wouldíve rated it around a two and a half or a two, but considering the circumstances, this oneís worth a positive recommendation. Two-thousand-three has been a dreadful year for film, so far. I keep thinking that itís going to improve, and that studios like to dish out crap thatís been sitting on the shelves for ages at beginning of the year, but then I stop and think. Arenít we already a third of the way through the year? I guess Iíll just have to accept that 2003 is probably going to, overall, be a bad 365 days for film. After the many dreadful disasters Iíve seen recently, Iíd take Identity any time.

     But, wait, this is supposed to be a positive review. Letís focus on the many pros of this film. For starters, the ensemble cast is enough to make any critic fall in love. Starring John Cusack, Ray Liotta, Amanda Peet, Clea Duvall, Alfred Molina, Rebecca DeMornay, and Jake Busey, Identity definitely has it covered in the acting department. Each performerís work is near perfect, and this works towards the films advantage, above anything else. In this creepy type of picture, the acting has to be well-done, to help the characters remain believable. The plot is so farfetched, yet so spooky, we definitely will be engaged, if the material is made easy to view by the actors and actresses. There is a nice and equal blend of elegance, fear, and intelligence in each of the performances.

     The direction is a stroke of genius; absolutely brilliant. The entire flick looks insanely wonderful, as well as remarkably unflawed. James Mangold leads the project with a distinct perseverance, which cleverly shows through in the film, and clearly gives audiences something to rave about. One of the most appreciable aspects of Mangoldís direction is that he knows where to focus the attention in each scene, and maps this with the camera. There are focus tricks that the casual viewer wonít bother to notice, so tremendously inspired, anyone studying Identity will realize that Mangold is a miraculous filmmaker. He, unlike others, knows how to skillfully tell this type of tale. Many viewers will applaud his direction, without ever even noticing it.

     As for the scare-rate; itís not that high, nor does it need to be. Identity cleverly pieces itself together without ever having to rely on cheap thrills. The screenplay, written by Michael Cooney and co-written by Mangold, is inspiring. The writing makes us absorb the material on a haunting psychological level. We indefinitely know whatís coming, but are often put into doubt of our predictions by ingenious plot developments, and never truly understand whatís going on until the very end of the film. We have no more knowledge of whatís to come of the characters, than they do themselves, and the ending is to die for. I knew that the plot twist would be similar to what it ended up being, but never was able to get a clear grasp on what specifically would happen. I was pondering this for the entire running length, and carefully studied every word that came out of each characters mouth. The end, although somewhat unwanted, leaves us very pleased. It is, for lack of a better term, insightful.

     Thoughtful and intelligent, Identity without a doubt, ranks in the top ten percent of theatrical releases at this time. It is a clear reminder that when good entertainment is hard to find, society will do anything to find anything even remotely respectable. Identity is a miraculous representation of this. I enjoyed it, but was never clearly blown-away. Some of the scenes are pitch-perfect, and others are just plain boring. If producer Cathy Konrad had balanced the tension in a more stable way, Identity couldíve been an unflawed cinematic experience. This is really my only strong complaint. But, the final product is, undeniably enriching; I respect this.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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