Till Human Voices Wake Us

"Weak"

Till Human Voices Wake Us Review


I feel sorry for Till Human Voices Wake Us, the new supernatural romance starring Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter. Not because it's a good movie that won't get the respect it deserves - it is, in fact, a quite slow and heavy-handed film - but because it has the bad luck to open only one week before David Cronenberg's masterpiece Spider, a far better film that shares many of the same themes and devices. If timing is everything, Till Human Voices Wake Us has very little going for it.

Michael Petroni, the film's writer/first-time director, wrote the screenplay for Till Human Voices Wake Us while still attending LA's American Film Institute and, according to my press notes, won a couple of awards for this story, which concerns an Australian psychologist forced to confront his past demons after meeting a mysterious young woman while at his family's summer house to bury his father. Like Cronenberg's infinitely superior examination of the mind's destructive capacity for denial, the film exists on two planes: the present, which finds Dr. Sam Frank (Pearce) trying to figure out who Ruby (Carter) is and why she's in the small Aussie town of Genoa; and the past, in which we learn about Sam's childhood summer romance with a young beauty named Sylvia.

What may have worked on the page, however, seems all too literal and obvious when projected large on the screen. Even though Petroni's capable direction frequently results in spare, lovely compositions, the film is woefully short on suspense and credible romance. Sam begins the film stating, "There are two types of forgetting: active and passive," and it's no surprise to discover that Sam is an expert at the former, willingly repressing a childhood tragedy that he cannot consciously confront. Pearce, burdened with an unflatteringly short haircut and bushy goatee, certainly possesses the intensity required for the role of Sam, and there are moments - such as when Sam stumbles upon a photo of his childhood love, gently caressing it with desperate longing - in which he conveys the torment of a man who, in an effort of self-preservation, has closed himself off from the world.

The film, however, keeps letting its lead performers down. While Lindley Joyner and Brooke Harman - two compelling young actors who play the childhood Sam and Sylvia - exhibit the awkward romantic tension that characterizes so many youthful trysts, the chemistry between their adult counterparts, Pearce and Carter, has all the spark of a wet match. Bonham Carter is given the thankless role of Ruby, a woman who Sam initially meets on the train to Genoa, and then again late one night when he rescues her from a suicide plunge off a bridge into the local river. Ruby emerges from the water an amnesiac, but as the film's cross-cutting between past and present makes painfully obvious, her presence in Genoa - and in Sam's life - is less a coincidence than a magical second chance for Sam at love, life, and healing.

Ruby wanders around the quaint rural town, visiting lots of Sam's childhood hangouts in a confused, wide-eyed daze, pushed and pulled by cosmic forces that seem to defy logical reason. Unfortunately, the film's mystery is easily deduced after the first 20 minutes, making it difficult to find anything very awe-inspiring or revelatory about the film's increasingly contrived surprises. Petroni's Till Human Voices Wake Us would have us believe that the key to emotional and psychological health and happiness is obtained by confronting one's past. A few less ghosts, and I might have believed him.

Wake up, sleepy head.



Facts and Figures

Run time: 101 mins

In Theaters: Thursday 12th September 2002

Distributed by: Paramount Classics

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 18 Rotten: 54

IMDB: 6.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Dr. Sam Franks, as Ruby

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

War Dogs Movie Review

War Dogs Movie Review

Based on a rather astounding true story, this comedy-drama centres on two stoners who landed...

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

Swallows and Amazons Movie Review

After a number of films, TV series and stage adaptations, Arthur Ransome's beloved 1930 novel...

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

David Brent: Life on the Road Movie Review

The original BBC sitcom The Office ran for 14 episodes from 2001 to 2003, and...

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

The Childhood of a Leader Movie Review

Bold and intelligent, this dark drama is a challenging portrait of the making of an...

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

Pete's Dragon Movie Review

This hugely enjoyable adventure is a loose remake of the 1977 Disney hit that blended...

Advertisement
The Shallows Movie Review

The Shallows Movie Review

With a simple premise and plenty of visual style, Spanish filmmaker Jaume Collet-Serra (Unknown) takes...

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Movie Review

Watching this gross-out comedy, it's clear that the gifted cast and crew had a great...

Nerve Movie Review

Nerve Movie Review

With a premise that feels almost eerily current, this stylish thriller revolves around a phone...

The Carer Movie Review

The Carer Movie Review

Brian Cox gets the role of a lifetime in this warm comedy about living life...

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Born to Be Blue Movie Review

Writer-director Robert Budreau takes a stylised approach to this biopic of the legendary jazz artist...

Jason Bourne Movie Review

Jason Bourne Movie Review

It's been nine years since Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass collaborated on The Bourne Ultimatum,...

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

The Commune [Kollektivet] Movie Review

Veteran Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg (Festen, The Hunt) returns to a smaller homegrown story after...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.