Thursday, 19 January 2012

Film Review: Trespass (2011)

Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Karl Gajdusek
Stars: Nicolas Cage, Nicole Kidman and Cam Gigandet

Academy Award winner Nicolas Cage. Academy Award winner Nicole Kidman. Two of my favourite stars together in the same film; when I first heard of this production, I was hyped from the very beginning. Admittedly, Cage’s choice of film roles have been hit and miss over the past few years (to put it mildly), but I’ll watch anything with him in, and, add to that, Kidman choose the script, too… what could go wrong with Trespass?

The answer is: a lot.

The paper-thin storyline outstays its welcome after not 30 of its short 85 minute running time. Cage and Kidman play a, seemingly, very wealthy yuppie couple whose state-of-the-art modern mansion is broken into by a gang of thieves who want the contents of Cage’s safe. Like many films set in one location, Trespassuses up all of its ideas in the opening act, and we are left with an hour of the usual tried and tested formulas: thieves turn against each other, the daughter is a tearaway, the marriage is in trouble, alarms go off and are cancelled before the police arrive (several times), Kidman and/or daughter are used as leverage (several times)… the list is endless. Furthermore, the list never excites or even entertains because the age-old principle always applies: you cannot care about any characters you do not have an emotional investment in. If the script writer cannot be bothered to make us care, why should we even try?

The film becomes a repetition of shouting, swearing, punching, threats, chases, and plot twists added in for no other reason than to squeeze out another 10 minutes before the next one and the next one and the next one until the film reaches the 85 minute mark and can justify a cinematic release. It certainly doesn’t help with director Joel Schumacher adding the woeful technique of splicing in a split-second shot of the room spinning each and every time a character is punched. I’m not a Schumacher hater like many people, but he’s not going to win any new fans with this film.

Trespass presents a strange dichotomy for fans of Cage and Kidman fans. The film is far, far below their talents and star power and you wonder what they ever saw in the screenplay to make them sign on. Yet at the same time, they are the only reason to keep watching, in the hope they will show us why they choose it the first instance. Sadly nothing turns up. In fact, Cage reportedly abandoned the project before filming started because he wanted to play one of the thieves; at least that way we might have seen one of his more extrovert performances.

The fact that the film was released on Video On Demand (i.e. to download) the same day as its theatrical release, and was planned to be released on DVD just 3 weeks after tells you everything you need to know about the film’s production. A quick, brainless marketing machine made with the sole purpose to reclaim its budget as quickly as possible so it can be forgotten about with the same speed.

Nicolas Cage has this to say about the digital and DVD release:

“I want movies to be an event. I want people to get excited about it and go out for the night with their wife or their date, whatever it may be, and have it be an event. I don’t want it to get smaller and smaller and wind up on a cell phone.”

Personally, I am in complete agreement with Cage. Film should be seen in a cinema because that is how the director should have made it. Yet with Trespass, you can’t help but think the production was designed for a digital release, and because of this, it should never have been made in the first place. Filmmaking should be done properly, or not at all.


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