Identity (2003)

10 Conversations about One Thing

About half of all films today are of the type that directly tinker with the narrative in some way. Usually the game is intended to play with the role of the viewer, tricking him into being a co-creator of the story. Sometimes it is simpler, where the writer takes the viewer aside to have a conversation ABOUT the story while the story is underway.

That latter is what we are meant to think is going on at the start of this project. There’s a “Scream” -like stance, flavoured with the time-hopping multiple threads from similarly-motivated Tarantino-inspired efforts. But then we shift into more of a challenge: this is a mystery, it seems. “Ten Little Indians” is cited (though the original title would have had more edge) by one of the characters as we shift into a struggle with the writer over who creates the future. It is as if our relationship with the writer changed from comfortable confidant to adversary, a clever, clever writing trick.

But no, we do not stop there. We now have two dynamic situations, the action on screen and the newly insecure relationship with the writer. Another shift! This time we move into what I think is a genre that has only appeared only in the last couple years. That is where we see multiple actors, but they are all playing the same character. Happened first for me in “Thing You Can Tell By Just Looking At Her” there cloaked in a magical realism. Most recently it happened in “13 Conversations about One Thing”. In both cases the unified character was a woman.

Here it is a man, but the backbone of this film is Clea DuVall, though the apparent narrator is Cusak. Cusak already has made a specialty of these sorts of self-referential folding where he is the narrator but not really. DuVall was the central character in “13 Conversations”, and she plays precisely the same persona and narrative anchor here.

All this is important if you want to understand the trick at the end. Which character is the murderer? Nope, not the kid: Ginny.

Posted in 2003

Ted’s Evaluation — 3 of 3: Worth watching.


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