March 16, 2007 | Comments ()

By Phillip Stephens | Film | March 16, 2007 |


I always figured that the whole point behind using disordered chronology in movies was to either provoke higher-order thinking or be used as a narrative device to heighten certain aspects of the story. The weird thing about Premonition is that it can’t really do either. Its nonlinear chronology is just a crutch — a way of confusing the viewer and injecting thriller/mystery tropes into an inherently empty, flat-paced story. There’s nothing to think about because the disjointed elements of the plot are explained as baldly as possible and with maximum dispassion by the cast and crew.

Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) is living the life of an average, boring hausfrau. She ferries her two daughters to school, enjoys some bland chitchat with hubby (the perennially sleazy Julian McMahon), goes shopping, does housework, and then stares out into space. One morning, the sheriff shows up on her doorstep. Bad news: A semi hit hubby and he exploded. Tough break, but Bullock seems as disinterested about this tragedy as she was while doing the dishes. Sure, she squeezes out a tear or two, but otherwise goes through the machinations of grief as idly and absently as if it were just another chore. Either all was not well at home, or Bullock can’t act (Hint: It’s both).

Whoopsie-daisy: Linda wakes up the next morning to find hubby sitting at the counter sipping coffee. Was it all a dream, or does Linda have Cassandra Syndrome? Linda doesn’t seem all that interested to find Dr. Doom Troy miraculously reanimated, but when her next nap sends her back to the future, things get complicated. Linda continues to bollix around the timeline, either discovering scrumptious new details about what’s been going on (not much) or trying to change the past/future. But like I said, Premonition isn’t some weighty look at the Novikov self-consistency principle or even the simple glance at causality it wants to be; it isn’t La Jetée or even Donnie Darko — the time angle is just a way to obfuscate the plot, because without it, the story would be revealed as the lifeless exercise in banality it really is.

Do we really care if (or will) Linda can save hubby? No, because the relationship between the two characters is nonexistent. Aside from Bullock and McMahon’s lackluster talents, the script doesn’t really give them anything to do except glumly exhort their love for one another; there’s no romance or even shape to their association. And like The Jacket and that other Bullock-afflicted nonsense, The Lake House, a disordered chronology doesn’t make much of a difference if there isn’t a dramatic element to match it. Premonition is basically a Dean Koontz potboiler acted out by a cast on Quaaludes. My premonition? $45 million at the box office.

Phillip Stephens is the lead critic for Pajiba. He lives in Fayetteville, AR.

An Ass-Wrinkle in Time

Premonition / Phillip Stephens

Film | March 16, 2007 | Comments ()



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