Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Uncertainty (Scott McGehee & David Siegel, 2008)

Delivering an unusual twin narrative featuring two different plot strands, and two different genres, but the same lead characters during the same twenty-four hour period of time, the high-concept Uncertainty radiates a warmth that’s rare for the sometimes overly intellectual filmmakers Scott McGehee & David Siegel. This is largely because the film’s prime thematic gambit is designed to convince the audience that the two young lovers that serve as protagonists have a world full of possibilities before them. Played by the likeable Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins, these characters turn out to be worth rooting for, regardless of circumstances.

Opening on the Brooklyn Bridge, the movie runs from its first scene in two strikingly different directions. One story, set in Manhattan, plays out as a chase thriller, in which a mysterious cell phone leads to a dangerous game of blackmail. The second story, which ranges across Brooklyn and Queens, is a family drama relayed in a lower key. The dual plot strands offer autocritiques that expose some of the limitations and strengths of each genre. Cutting between the two plots undoubtedly provides a bigger picture than either could provide alone, but it must be noted that sometimes that’s the result of incidental dialogue that could have as easily been inserted into one episode as the other.

While Uncertainty can’t manage to make each of its stories equally interesting at all times, the unique structure it employs is less gimmicky in practice than one might initially suspect. A few moments, such as cloned sex scenes that redefine the term “simultaneous orgasm”, really maximize the approach, but one must admit that this ploy hardly results in the revelations that might have been unlocked by such a boldly deconstructionalist style. Nonetheless, Uncertainty certainly remains engaging enough as it unfolds, and it stays true to its title in its refusal to conclude by providing easy answers.

Rating: 53/100

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