Following condemning a man who claimed to have suffered from split personalities to his death due to her disbelief that such a condition exists, psychiatrist Cara Jessop (Julianne Moore) is presented with another interesting case by her father (Jeffrey DeMunn).
When the softly spoken and wheelchair bound Adam transforms into the able bodied and confrontational David before her eyes, she realises that there’s more to the case than she initially assumed and sets out to prove that there’s a logical explanation. As she delves deeper into the mystery, she realises that the various personalities are those of murder victims and she is lead to question her professional beliefs, as well as her faith, in her attempts to uncover the truth.
For the most part, the film is competently shot. There are a few shots that seem superfluous to requirements, including an extended homage to the opening shot of The Shining sandwiched between two other extended sequences of travelling.
I’m not familiar with Swedish directorial duo Mårlind and Stein’s previous work, but from a visual perspective, this is a fairly solid effort that, paired with the fact that there’s a decent build of suspense and some nicely executed scare shots in many of the scenes featured here, is enough to make me interested to see what they do next.
Julianne Moore is solid here. This is far from her best performance, and there’s a strong sense that she’s much better than the material deserves. Many of the supporting actors give good performances, considering what they have to work with. Jeffrey DeMunn is good as Cara’s father, but the usually excellent Frances Conroy is quite poor. It might be the fact that she’s doing her best with an underwritten character, but she’s far from impressive.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers’ role is perhaps the most challenging here, with him having to adopt a number of different personalities and accents. Many of the physical attributes and mannerisms that make up these different personalities are very similar, apart from the wheelchair bound Adam, and the quality of the accents are varied, putting it politely.
My favourite, though, has to be Rhys Meyers’ John Leguizamo impression for the personality of David. It really is quite special.
The most disturbing case of split personalities here is that presented by the film itself. What starts off as a fairly entertaining and above average psychological thriller descends into a supernatural farce in the final act. It really is like watching two entirely different films, with the promise that was built throughout the first two thirds being destroyed in the final third.
This, in itself, wouldn’t have necessarily been a bad thing, had it not been for the absence of logic in people’s actions and inconsistencies with the main plot device, which would involve getting too deep into spoiler territory to fully explore here. If you do watch the film, see if you think it’s consistent with any kind of rules, or if it just plays loose and fast with them, seemingly making things up as it goes along.
When I saw this was written by Michael Cooney, who penned the rather excellent Identity, my hopes were quite high. Clearly, this was a mistake. I’m not someone who generally struggles with suspension of disbelief, but even my eyes were rolling on numerous occasions here. You kind of have to buy into people doing really stupid things in genre films, but they were pushing it on numerous occasions.
I would hesitate to recommend this, which is a shame, as for two thirds of the film I was on board and really enjoying the ride. However, it lost me when it derailed at the end, which made the overall experience quite frustrating.
The disc is a little light on extras with only three interviews available. In them, Julianne Moore, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Mårlind and Stein all talk about the film, with Moore and Rhys Meyers focussing on their characters and Mårlind and Stein’s focus on the production. None of them are particularly enlightening and last under ten minutes in total.
It’s worth pointing out that the disc suffers from a poor audio mix and it’s one of the many releases where dialogue is largely inaudible unless the volume is cranked up.
Shelteris out now and available from the Den Of Geek Store.