It’s the weekend, you have nothing to do, what you really want is a nice film to watch, maybe one with echoes of a lot of the other films and television shows you like but just not nearly as enjoyable. Enter Looking Glass, a film about as good as the dye job Nicolas Cage is rocking in it. Much like many other Nicolas Cage films, it trades on echoes of his previous work with hints of late 90s Cage work like 8mm and Snake Eyes as well as a David Lynchian dissonance that feels like the movie wishes it were artier than it is. Though it does have a lovely score.
The film starts off well enough, slowly doling out plot in favour of layering on the mystery thick as Ray (Cage) & Maggie (The Craft‘s Robin Tunney) move to the middle of nowhere to run a motel and make a new start in the wake of the death of their child, yet there are suspicions around why so many regulars seem to only want to use Room 10 and why can’t they get hold of the man that sold them the motel? Let’s just say, the title comes into play. Director Tim Hunter’s experience directing television like Riverdale & Twin Peaks comes into play as the muted colour scheme with flashes of neon lend everything a washed out seediness that helps build the B-level Rear Window vibes that the film relishes in. Cage, along with an underused Tunney and a nicely ambiguous performance by Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s Marc Blucas as a caffeine addicted local Sheriff do actually help keep the film from descending into ridiculous hysterics by playing their roles well and making the emotions feel grounded in reality.
Sadly, as much as they attempt to make everything feel both thrillingly sordid and disturbingly real, it doesn’t quite achieve much once it is supposed to have got going than a sense of mild tedium which even the De Palma-esque flashes of depravity coming off quite tame and lacking in any vigour. Also as well-framed as many of the shots are, the actual direction and scripting seem very plodding, intent on setting up the premise and hoping that if it sits in it and throws in lots of horror/thriller cliché like the suspicious locals who seem to live outside the petrol station, existing only to leave an unnecessary additional threat/red herring. It tells you something when I get to this point in the review and I’ve only just now remembered there was actually a murder/kidnapping element of the story that was so irrelevant that it didn’t even make it into my notes. Equally, I can’t say it enough, Cage’s dye job is truly, truly terrible.
Ultimately, it’s serviceable entertainment but it’s neither a shockingly good display of Cage’s talents like Wild at Heart or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans nor is it a full-blown crazy cult classic like…Wild at Heart or Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call, New Orleans, it’s just too standard, it feels like everything that makes it unique gets quickly drained away leaving only a very standard thriller with a disappointingly sub-standard climax. If you’re a Cage completist or just really need something to watch where you can turn your brain off, it will do the job but quite frankly, you can do an awful lot better. Really though, the score is quite lovely.
Dir: Tim Hunter
Scr: Jerry Rapp, Matthew Wilder
Cast: Nicolas Cage, Robin Tunney, Marc Blucas, Ernie Lively, Jacue Gray, Kassia Conway, Bill Bolender, Kimmy Jimenez
Prd: Nicholas Burnett, Arianne Fraser, Cameron Jones, Kurt Kittleson, Tank Menzies, Jason Carter Miller, Barry Jay Minoff, Ross Otterman, Delphine Perrier, Braxton Pope, Kristi Shimek, Geoff Walker, David M.Wulf
DOP: Patrick Cady
Music: Mark Adler, Kristin Gundred
Runtime: 89 minutes
Looking Glass Is Out On DVD & Download Now.