November 2, 2001
John Travolta stars in this thriller about families and the shuffling of the ties that bind, and how sometimes not letting go of the past can be a very good thing indeed.
Travolta plays Frank, a divorced father whose ex-wife, played by Teri Polo, has decided to re-marry. Her new husband, played by Vince Vaughn, seems to be the perfect companion for her and stepfather to Travolta's 11-year-old son, played by Matthew O'Leary. Frank hasn't moved on as well as his ex-wife, however; though he has a girlfriend, Diane, played by Susan Floyd, he's unwilling to take the relationship farther because he feels it would take him away from his boy. He's also still in love with his ex-wife. But it seems as though everything is about to work out for Frank and Diane; the wedding signals - to her, at least - the closing of the old chapter, and the opening of a new one for them, the chance to take their relationship, which has been a good one as far as it went, to the next level. But before long, Frank's son discovers the truth about his new stepfather, and Frank must save his son and his former wife from increasingly deadly circumstances.
Domestic Disturbance harkens back to the noir films of old, where one is never entirely sure of allegiances or motivations, and even the brightest of situations are edged in sinister shadows. With this genre, every part of the film needs to be a quality product, from the writing to the acting all the way down to the cinematography. On paper, this has the makings of a first-class thriller; the director, Harold Becker, has made a career of neo-noir thrillers, most notably among them The Onion Field, Taps and Malice. Michael Seresin, the cinematographer, also has an impressive noir and dramatic resume, including Midnight Express, Angel Heart, and Angela's Ashes. Vince Vaughn, when kept in check, exudes exactly the mixture of charm and possible menace one wants for a role that keeps the audience in an is-he-or-isn't-he? Quandary, and Travolta, given a good script, can lead an audience through a plot's twists and turns with the best of them. In fact, the only worrisome factor in this equation is the writing; with a first-timer on the screenplay, and a trio of none-too-successful scripters for the story, Domestic Disturbance might lose it in the writing. Still, with such an impressive cast, director and cinematographer, the film will certainly be worth a look. And with a good marketing campaign and a trailer designed to raise the hackles, Paramount could have a nice little hit on its hands. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)
Comparison films for Domestic Disturbance
|Along Came a Spider
|Sea of Love