Release Date: June 26, 2009
Limited release

We're sure he'll be fine.

On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
167/169 Max Braden Took way too long to get to the story, and then reveals that it was all for nothing except to fool the audience. The only thing this demonstrates is that criminals can get away with murder.

New at BOP:
Share & Save
Digg Button  
Fifteen years is an eternity (or at the very least, several pop-culture generations) in the world of entertainment. Unless you are Terrence Malick, living off the aura of your own mystique for two decades and then following up Days of Heaven with The Thin Red Line, taking that long between projects is almost unfathomable. Unless perhaps, the first film in question is 1993's Boxing Helena, a project that, whether rightly or not (it remains unseen by me) has become a shorthand punchline along the lines of Ishtar, Inchon or Town and Country.

Writer/director Jennifer Lynch's tale of amour fou and Sherilynn Fenn's transformation into a modern day Venus de Milo, had a lot going against it over the course of its production. It was buzzed about primarily for the fact that Kim Basinger had bailed out of working on it and been sued for doing so. It was slapped with an NC-17 at first (later edited down to an R) which then, as now, severely limited where it could be shown or advertised. Oh, and the fact that Jennifer was the daughter of director David Lynch almost guaranteed that even if it was as mind-blowingly incredible as Mulholland Dr or Inland Empire, it would still be unfavorably compared to her father's work.

All that combined for a film that was met with significant critical evisceration and commercial "meh" reception. But time rolls on. Jennifer Lynch took the intervening years off, raised a daughter on her own, endured multiple spinal operations resulting from a motorcycle crash she suffered as a teen and has now returned with a story that caused papa Lynch to comment, "You're the sickest ***** I know." Ah, fatherly approval.

Surveillance stars Bill Pullman and Julia Ormond (both looking quite effectively type and playing against their standard screen images) as FBI agents on the hunt for a serial killer (or killers) in small-town America and interviewing three eyewitnesses from the bloody aftermath of a highway shootup they believe is tied in to their investigation. But as the story progresses, the eyewitness stories begin contradicting each other and it becomes apparent that everyone has something to hide. Graphic violence and sexual sadism collide with a variation on Rashomon, although if the film's initial summation as a supernatural thriller and Jennifer Lynch's comment that she wanted to make the story with witches are accurate, there could be some detours into the truly bizarre.

It is worth noting that Surveillance was selected for last year's Cannes Festival and that it won top film at the 41st Sitges-Catalonian International Film Festival, noted as Europe's most esteemed fantasy/horror festival. beating out Let the Right One In by doing so. Naysayers could argue slapping David Lynch's name on as executive producer makes all kinds of mojo happen. Time will tell. (Brett Beach/BOP)

Vital statistics for Surveillance
Main Cast Julia Ormond, Bill Pullman, Pell James
Supporting Cast Ryan Simpkins, French Stewart, Kent Harper, Michael Ironside
Director Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Screenwriter Kent Harper, Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Distributor Magnolia Pictures
Trailer Click Here for Trailer
Official Site
Rating R
Screen Count 2
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



Need to contact us? E-mail a Box Office Prophet.
Saturday, December 5, 2020
© 2020 Box Office Prophets, a division of One Of Us, Inc.