Derailed Review

Nov 14, 2005 | 6:08am EST

Derailed doesn't waste any time. After a scene of spousal bickering between Deanna and Charles Schine (Melissa George and Clive Owen) Charles is on the commuter train flirting with stunning--and also married--business exec Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston). It would make sense the two best-looking people on a crowded train would find one another. Before long they're in a cheap motel room trysting away. But they soon find themselves in much more trouble than they bargained for. A thug (Vincent Cassel) busts into the room to rob them and sums up what they are doing there pretty quickly. He does a few extra nasty things namely to Lucinda and then leaves. But that isn’t the last we hear of him. Soon Charles is being blackmailed by the guy who threatens to tattle--or worse--if he doesn't get what he wants thus planting the seeds that will bloom into cookie-cutter twists. It's been far too long since Owen smiled in one of his movies. He again broods his way through Derailed eschewing and suppressing any dramatic fireworks letting it all just simmer below the surface. I’m just saying maybe it’s time for a comedy. For Aniston she’s proven she can do dramatic with her stellar turn in the indie The Good Girl. But her foray into the dark world of adulterous affairs is at best iffy here. Her Friends perkiness still plagues her--and to top it off her screen time in Derailed is very limited. The lone bright spot is French actor Cassel best known for playing cat and mouse games with George Clooney in Ocean's Twelve. His varied performance greatly overshadows his A-list co-stars. Derailed is Swedish director Mikael Hafstrom first English-language film (his Evil was nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar in 2004) but chances are it won’t be his last. His careful slow-burn technique with Derailed should generate plenty of future offers especially since he understands how to sell a film which may or may not make him proud. It seems at times as though he wanted to go for a more urban-noir Euro-caper feel but was perhaps overruled by the Weinstein brothers (former heads of Miramax) who chose a more commercialized Derailed to launch their new production company. In any event despite a weak script full of gaping holes in logic the movie moves smoothly.

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