Time Out New York Project: Issue #737, November 12-18, 2009
Dirs. Scott McGehee and David Siegel. 2008. N/R. 101mins. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Lynn Collins, Assumpta Serna.
It’s a clear, sunny July 4th morn, and young Gothamites Bobby (Gordon-Levitt) and Kate (Collins) are uncertain. About what, exactly? Uncertain whether to spend the day alone in Manhattan or visit Kate’s parents for a Kings County BBQ. To counter their…uncertainty, they flip a coin and then tear off in opposite directions along the Brooklyn Bridge. Each of them meets up with an alterna-world version of the other, and they proceed into color-coded parallel narratives—in Brooklyn, a low-key character study; in Manhattan, a sub-Ludlum suspenser. Uncertainty solved!
Yeah, right. Here’s what is certain: As was the case with The Deep End—their vacuous defacement of Max Ophüls’s masterpiece The Reckless Moment—codirectors Scott McGehee and David Siegel prize intellectualized conceits over intuitive emotions. It hardly matters that they have the talent to compose a striking frame or that they garner mostly terrific performances from their ensemble cast, since everything’s in service of a labored film-theory exercise. There’s no drama, because Uncertainty’s resolution-denying outcome is clearly planned from frame one. Bobby and Kate are puppets on strings, both pulled roundabout through McGehee-Siegel’s phony proving ground toward a howler of a final exchange. Whatever the toss (heads or tails), it’s a dud.—Keith Uhlich