“He’ll try something to knock you off your rhythm,” says Rip Torn’s pool-hall manager to Famke Janssen’s pool shark, but it’s almost as if he were warning director Chris Eigeman about writer Chris Eigeman. The former shows promise as a filmmaker, reflecting the distinct cool and angst of a pool game in the way Turn the River oscillates between glimmers of Kailey’s (Janssen) private and professional life, but the latter tries to trip him up with expository bad habits and a practically sub-protozoan view of male behavior. Mercifully, Eigeman avoids correlating pool maneuvers to the twists and turns of life, and though he captures a number of credibly playful back-and-forths between Kailey and her son Gulley (Jaymie Dornan), he too often has them reveal their backstories aloud. This is most egregious after Quinn (Torn) takes Kailey into his pool hall’s backroom, where she discloses why she hasn’t been allowed to see Gulley since he was born and how she plans to raise enough money to hightail it to Canada with him. Quinn is nothing more than a soundboard, and though Eigeman basically asks Janssen to act to the audience, she performs a small miracle by diffusing her character’s improbable sense of disclosure with intimate detail. The scene is arch and overwritten, like the stick-shift practice and actualization late in the film, but Janssen refuses to overplay her cards, and like Quinn in a way, you have to marvel at her expertise, like the way she gets us to believe—with a loving smile, at times the coyest of oral fixations, sometimes even the canniest of facial twitters—that Kailey would write too-cute, one-sentence letters to her son (in big black handwriting, no less!) as a means of keeping the lines of communication open between them. It’s a bumpy film, and though no one may see it, it’s impossible to imagine it playing as gracefully, like its effectively open-ended finale, without Janssen’s conviction to her role.
- Screen Media Films
- 92 min
- Chris Eigeman
- Chris Eigeman
- Famke Janssen, Jaymie Dornan, Rip Torn, Matt Ross, Lois Smith, Marin Hinkle, Terry Kinney, John Juback, Tony Robles, Jordan Bridges, Ari Graynor
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