From the Hollywood school of pop psychology comes Don’t Say A Word, a Freud-for-Dummy’s journey into mind-cracking. Michael Douglas’s society psychiatrist seeks to save his kidnapped daughter by breaking the code inscribed in the sepia-toned memories of a faux Linda Blair. Elizabeth Burrows (Brittany Murphy) is a bug-eyed, cracked-out girl interrupted. Murphy coos her lines as if she were dropping a vocal track for a psycho-trippy techno anthem (“I’ll never tell, I’ll never tell, any of you!”). A doublecrossing ruby heist gives way to a ridiculously overwrought portrait of uprooted domestic bliss. Instead of settling for a doe-eyed mother with agile limbs, director Gary Fleder goes for Rear Window cred by placing Famke Janssen in a brace so as to ensure primo suspense when the bad guys break into her house. What with the peppy eye glasses and perfect lip-liner, Janssen doubles as crippled Mommy-down and sexy peep show harlot (she’s spied on through the kidnappers’ “I’m everywhere” video system). Slow motion interludes are pitch-perfectly set to Mark Isham’s high-minded jazz tunes while Fleder’s camera nauseatingly spins around his angst-ridden paternal figures. As Douglas’s Father Goose attempts to save his Home Alone-loving offspring (how’s that for self-reflexivity?), Janssen gives the “wink-wink, get out of here” gaze to her Italian-speaking maid while discovering the multi-purpose use of cast molds. After his equally laughable Kiss the Girls, Fleder shows no signs of having gotten treatment for whatever disease he has the makes him so fond of whispering voices and psychobabble. Freud-hating Dr. Conrad is a ready-made superman, saving his women while proving that the crazies can be cured before the punch of the five o’clock timecard. You might laugh but you’ll probably have a better time spotting the World Trade Center in the film’s New York skyline. By keeping the towers in place, 20th Century Fox proves that they are infinitely more loyal to human psychology than this piece of filth.
- Gary Fleder
- Patrick Smith Kelly, Anthony Peckham
- Michael Douglas, Famke Janssen, Jennifer Esposito, Brittany Murphy, Sean Bean, Guy Torry, Oliver Platt, Conrad Goode, Skye McCole Bartusiak
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