Sunday, October 30, 2011

3 short paragraphs: Frailty


2001, Bill Paxton -- netflix

As I was watching Frailty, Bill Paxton's debut directorial effort, I was struck with a nagging sense of deja vu. I'm convinced I've seen it before even though none of the film's story came back to me as it played on (and searching my own vast records of movie reviews, I find no past write up for it). However, the rhythms of the film were entirely predictable, as such there were no surprises.

The plot of the film finds a devoutly religious father (Paxton) believing he's been visited by an angel, who has given him god's will to punish -- and the vision to see -- evil. As he carries out his mission (essentially murdering people whom he believes to be demons), he brings along his two boys, the younger believing fully in his father's quest, the eldest conflicted at best and vehemently against his father's crusade at worst, yet powerless to do anything about it. It's a solid idea for drama, however it's framed in Lifetime movie of the week style as a grown up version of one of the boys (played by Matthiew McConaughey) arrives at an FBI agents office (Powers Booth) and reports that his brother is the "God's Hands killer", a serial murderer on the most wanted list.

It's not the only Lifetime MOTW aspect to the film. Either Paxton shot on video, or it was presented by Netflix in full frame, but in either case it looked cheap. This is also not to mention that Paxton shot the entire feature in soft focus which made it look and feel cheesy. Plus, well, it has Powers Booth. I came out of Frailty (perhaps for a second time) liking the concept of the film but disliking the film for its style and execution.