Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

I don't understand the appeal of thrillers.

In Arlington Road, Michael Faraday is becoming increasingly worried that there is a terrorist living in the house opposite him. Also his wife is dead, making him a single parent. Then his new girlfriend leaves him.

Am I supposed to be connecting with this guy and wishing that I was him? On what level am I supposed to be watching this movie and daydreaming oh if only real life was just like this?

You can see why I find the genre such a conundrum.

It goes without saying that Faraday's neighbour is indeed the villain who he suspects him to be. The evil music that plays underneath his dialogue makes it hard to suppose anything else. Unless of course that's a red herring. I mean they have to pull some clever unexpected trick with the big reveal, don't they? It's a film.

In fact, despite everything that I've just said, remove Faraday's cypher girlfriend, and Arlington Road is a pretty well made movie. When a bomb goes off destroying an office block, it all takes place between scenes, yet without losing its dramatic impact. His wife's death is done very well too.

A lot of time is invested into making the protagonist someone who we can believe in, which is why all the melodramatic cinematography kept on rubbing me the wrong way. For example, when he goes to pick up his son from Camp Occoquan, even the Scouty camp leaders are lit from below to look thoroughly evil:

No matter how well the plot may function, there is just no chance of buying into believing shots like this. Just what do they have on that desk - their camp fire?

But whatever my problems with the thriller genre, the thing that made sitting through these 177 minutes so worthwhile will always be the absolutely stunning ending. To see a conclusion so satifying after so much build up is an impressive thing indeed, but Arlington Road pulls it off in exactly the way that I never expected it to.


Alas, the light-hearted tone of this review is about to change, in the very worst way possible.

At time of writing, there's just been a very tragic real life act of terrorism in the US, with many dead. A day or so on I've just read in the New Zealand Herald a report saying that it's believed to be the work of one loner, complete with his yearbook photo.

Perhaps the point of this movie genre is specifically to make us feel uncomfortable with the world out there, and to remind us to be careful how we understand it.

(available here)


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