DRAMA; 1hr 52min
STARRING: Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore, Billy Crudup, Abby Quinn
Cross purposes: Williams (left) and Moore
How far would you go for a $2 million donation to your life’s cause? For Bengal orphanage manager Isabel (Williams, evocative restraint in action), the distance proves incalculably great. It begins with a trip to New York for a meeting with possible benefactor Theresa (Moore) that sobersides Isabel emphatically doesn’t want to take. Her work is her life and intercontinental jaunts are one folly she could do without.
Meanwhile, Theresa, who is as vibrant and dynamic as Isabel is closed off and quiet, has a big life of her own. There’s her booming media-placement corporation, her devoted husband, artist Oscar (Crudup), and their young twin boys. There’s also a daughter (Quinn as Grace) about to be married in the garden of Theresa and Oscar’s waterfront mansion. Theresa insists a begrudging Isabel attend so the two women can become better acquainted. (Understatement alert…)
At the wedding, which is tastefully sumptuous in the easy way of extreme wealth, the story takes a dizzying swerve into Coincidence Cove with the discovery that Isabel and Oscar share A Past. The actors muscle through the fallout of this bombshell with their game faces firmly in place, yet even at its soapiest, their glassy path fails to sizzle.
The Myth of Fingerprints writer-director (and Moore’s husband) Bart Freundlich is a brave man indeed to tackle a remake of Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier’s 2006 original. (After all, no one does mounting tension and reined-in darkness quite like a Dane.) Here, the hand-wringing is more visually tasteful than elementally stirring—you look, but you’re never really touched. Only when Theresa falls poignantly apart do the floodgates swing open at last, to reveal what should have been building all along.