MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, THE
On his way to an interstate assignment, Washington Post political journalist John Klein (Richard Gere) finds himself stranded when his car mysteriously breaks down at 2.30am on a deserted road into Point Pleasant, West Virginia. Itís 400 miles out of his planned trip and he doesnít know how he got there. He soon learns from local police sergeant, Connie (Laura Linney), that local people - perfectly ordinary people, without a spiritualist or a
UFO-logist amongst them - had reported seeing a strange, dark, winged figure. Klein is riveted to discover that the drawings of this figure match the drawings his wife made on her deathbed two years earlier, after their weird car accident. Desperate and desperately missing his wife, Klein tries to find the answers. Big ask.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
This is my kinda stuff, I donít mind admitting. Mysterious, teetering on the edge of reality and fantasy, bizarre manifestations that suggest some other-worldly input Ė yet neither spiritual nor alien. Itís not UFOs, itís not ghosts, itís not anything we can label. Yet for those who experience it, itís as big as the second coming. Rarely do filmmakers capture this mood of absolute mystery with the verve and cinematic inventiveness of The Mothman Prophecies, which avoids the predictable and refuses to provide easy answers. There are no gloopy suggestions of aliens or spirits, and the combination of cinematography, optical and visual effects plus a clever score with sound design that matches all of the above provides a decent dollop of movie whammy. None of this would be nearly so affecting and effective if we were not told that it was based on real incidents. That information catapults the film into a genuinely creepy territory of the mind, and I suspect I will be dreaming and fantasisisng about this film for weeks. For my money, Laura Linney is the star, not that Richard Gere is a slouch. His Washington Post journalist character is the device through which the reported stories are fused into a screenplay, and it works well. Production design is great, but is outshone by the visual signature of the film that involves a combination of camera and digital effects to create a stylistic eye-popper to keep us alert as well as in dread. As risky and as riveting as moths around a flameÖ.
Review by Louise Keller:
I really like films that toss up question marks. And The Mothman Prophecies throws them up throughout. Filled with intrigue, mystery and unexplained phenomena, ití a humdinger of a sci-fi thriller. There are plenty of chills Ė and Iím not talking only about the weather Ė with much of the action taking place at night, when the shadows seep into our fertile imaginations. Based on a true story, itís an interesting script and the only incredible moment comes right at the beginning when John and Mary start making out in the closet of the house they are looking to buy, even though the real estate chap is in the very next room. Enigmatic Richard Gere is terrific as John, the Washington Post reporter devastated by his wifeís death. Gere has always been an interesting actor, and in his 50s, proffers plenty of charisma. He always strikes me as a man of mystery, and we feel thereís always a side of him that we donít yet know. Laura Linney, so memorable from You Can Count on Me, for which she received an Academy Award nomination, is sympathetic and instantly likeable as Connie, the local cop, in whom locals want to confide. John and Connieís relationship develops very naturally, and is based on comfort rather than sparks. Director Mark Pellington (Arlington Road) makes this an intimate experience with plenty of tight close ups contrasting with aerial and crane shots. Superb sound effects and music Ė the rhythms and sounds are fascinating, at times jarring, but never predictable. They complement the themes beautifully, as if they are describing a puzzle that can never be solved. The visual effects work exceedingly well, reinforcing the sentiment that less is more. I thoroughly enjoyed The Mothman Prophecies, a taut and satisfying chiller that may well stimulate your dreams.
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FEATURE by Eleanor Singer
MOTHMAN PROPHECIES, THE (M)
CAST: Richard Gere, Laura Linney, Will Patton, Debra Messing, Lucinda Jenney, Alan Bates
PRODUCER: Gary W. Goldstein, Gary Lucchesi, Tom Rosenberg
DIRECTOR: Mark Pellington
SCRIPT: Richard Hatem (book by John A. Keel)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Fred Murphy
EDITOR: Brian Berdan
MUSIC: Jeff Rona
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Richard Hoover
RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Columbia TriStar
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: May 23, 2002
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Col TriStar Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: December 11, 2002