Combustible Celluloid
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With: Alfred Molina, Hope Davis, Simon Baker, Shane West, Donal Logue, Philip Baker Hall, Rachael Leigh Cook, Rebecca Pidgeon
Written by: David Ondaatje, based on a novel by Marie Belloc Lowndes
Directed by: David Ondaatje
MPAA Rating: R for violent content, language and brief nudity
Running Time: 95
Date: 01/14/2009

The Lodger (2008)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

'Ripped' Off

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Alfred Hitchcock filmed Marie Belloc Lowndes' book all the way back in 1927, and it has been filmed many times since, so this new version doesn't seem so much like a "remake." It's mostly an interesting failure, gathering a cast of terrific, underused talents for an uninspired, un-suspenseful story of a serial killer on the loose. Alfred Molina and Shane West play the police detectives in charge of the case. Detective Manning (Molina) sent another man to the chair years earlier for similar crimes. Worse, all the murders seem to be following in the exact footsteps of Jack the Ripper! Is it the same guy? Did Manning make a mistake? Meanwhile, homemaker Ellen (Hope Davis) rents a room to a handsome but mysterious lodger (Simon Baker) and becomes increasingly obsessed with him, much to the chagrin of her always-annoyed security guard husband (Donal Logue). The always-adorable Rachael Leigh Cook has nothing to do as Manning's estranged daughter. Philip Baker Hall barks a few lines in his role as a police captain, and Rebecca Pidgeon drops by every once in a while for some expository psychoanalysis (just like in the final scene of Psycho). Writer/director David Ondaatje makes his feature debut here, and mostly cuts back and forth between Ellen and the police investigation, trying to create red herrings but drawing too much attention to certain things and not enough attention to other things; he fails to get a sense of character or suspense (one comes from the other). He pays tribute to Hitchcock at least once, borrowing the famous "knife" sequence from Blackmail (1929). I liked watching the cast here, but otherwise, the movie disappeared quickly from my memory.

DVD Details: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment released the 2009 DVD with deleted/alternate scenes, a making-of featurette and trailers.

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