Friday, 16 October 2015

REVIEW - REGRESSION (ALEJANDRO AMENABAR)


Less a story of reason conquering religion than one of reason pushing against humanity's innate tendency to deny it, to grasp onto fanciful suggestions of spirituality. Regression eventually unfurls itself from the baffling tangle of suggestions that it sets against us, the lack of clarity in Alejandro Amenabar's screenplay entirely obfuscating where he's going and what he's getting at; in the end, it's both far more scientifically intriguing than it has the intelligence to realise, and far less sensationalistically satisfying than it has the sense to realise either. It aims for suspense, but fails to establish strong enough stakes in any direction to actually generate any, Amenabar somehow making many of his narrative foils crushingly obvious well in advance of their reveal yet also muddying the water with too many strands of suspicion, most of which turn out to be empty and useless. Regression isn't quite a complete write-off - even if the talent that inspired its writer-director to better work in the past has diminished, it hasn't disappeared. While he may struggle to spin this true story into a convincing critique on any particular thing, his mistrust toward small-town mentalities and religious ignorance ring true to this viewer at least; he gets a lift off zero simply by constructing this story as a detective thriller, and gets further boosts by sensitive performances from David Dencik, Dale Dickey and lead Ethan Hawke. The less said about Emma Watson's dud turn the better, then, though she almost gets a pass for the blatant fakery of her work here by a final act twist that's nevertheless plain to see from long before the final act.