Wednesday, 21 October 2015

BACKTRACK - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Predictable supernatural thriller - TADFF 2015

Adrien Brody registers some autopilot anguish for us.
Backtrack (2015)
Dir. Michael Petroni
Starring: Adrien Brody, Sam Neill, Bruce Spence,
Robin McLeavy, Malcolm Kennard, Jenni Baird

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Man, when Adrien Brody is playing a character in anguish, nobody can reproduce this single note with more autopilot consistency than he can. In this wannabe "thoughtful" Aussie thriller, Brody plays a psychiatrist grieving over the death of his child - all the more so since he believes her demise was his fault. In spite of this, he's decided to ease back into his practice in order to give psychiatric care to others even though he's hardly healed from his own wounds.

Luckily, Brody has an old pal and mentor in the form of stalwart Sam Neill to see him through the rough patches and the two of them have plenty of opportunities to talk things out. Brody maintains his grimace of anguish in these scenes whilst Neill is plastered with a virtually Botoxed visage of concern.

Anguish is Botoxed into Adrian Brody's face
as he commingles with a ghost.

In no time at all, one of Brody's clients, a mysterious little girl, proves to be a ghost.

Or is she a figment of his overheated anguish and despair?

Well, it matters not since he's being haunted either way.

Not surprisingly, Brody needs to eventually engage himself in the Backtrack of the film's title in order to retrace a few steps from his deep, distant past in his old small-town. He reconnects with his alcoholic Dad, a retired policeman with his own deep, dark secrets and a plucky young policewoman who begins to smell a rat.

And a smelly, hoary old rat it turns out to be.

Sam Neill registers concern.
Brody registers ('natch) anguish.

Eventually, all this plays out as predictably as one would expect in a film which purports to be above the tropes of its genre, but is, in fact, replete with and dependent upon them.

There's a veneer of competence here which means the film can't be totally flushed down the toilet, but the picture is ultimately as dull as it is derivative and infused with the kind of mock-intelligence which bamboozles some (including, presumably, its makers) into assuming the movie is far more lofty than it is.

Still, one cannot deny how great Adrien Brody is at conveying anguish.

In Backtrack, his entire persona proves to be an immoveable feast.

THE FILM CORNER RATING: *½ One-and-a-half-Stars

Backtrack enjoys is Canadian premiere at TADFF 2015.