Friday, April 1, 2011

Wrecked: lost, beaten, alone, oblivious

It opens bleary-eyed, gurgling itself into what may or may not be its protagonist’s waking state. He’s battered, trapped, at a complete loss as to where he is or how he got there. It was early enough in the wintry morning that I felt not entirely dissimilar as I settled in. I went into a press screening of
Wrecked with my preferred amount of foreknowledge regarding its content, contributors, and genre: I didn’t know a damned thing about it. If you’re likewise ignorant of these factors and are still inclined to see the film anyway, by all means, stop reading. Having said that, the following comments shy away from excess synopsis. Wrecked, a US/Canada co-production, is assuredly simple, a modest yet promising double-debut from two resourceful Canadian filmmakers, director Michael Greenspan and writer Christopher Dodd. So I’ll try to keep this review simple too.

Here’s where we start: Adrien Brody finds himself trapped in a car that’s smashed into a tree in a dense forest. Corpses he doesn’t recognize slouch in the backseat. He’s got no food and little water and the radio assaults him with fuzzy, dated pop hits. (Tiny Tim eerily trills away twice in one weekend;
Insidious also uses ‘Tip-toe Through the Tulips’ for retro-creep-out effect.) He seems to suffer from amnesia. He has no idea how to negotiate his survival in this place, wherever it is. The only words spoken during the first 15 minutes are largely torrents of expletives. In keeping with Brody’s desperate, frazzled state, Greenspan and Dodd deftly manage our degrees of orientation. The camera angles even make it difficult to discern up from down. It’s hard to know what’s even meant to be real: when you can barely remember a thing about your life it seems your dreams and hallucinations conform to your immediate circumstances.

Okay, okay, Brody does get out of the car. He makes friends with a dog that’s pretty easy to love. He starts crawling on his belly. Bleached-out flashbacks accumulate. Here’s more: there’s a radio broadcast regarding a bank robbery in Abbotsford. But how presumptuous should we be about the significance of this shard of clearly significant information? More interestingly, how presumptuous should Brody’s character be? Dodd wisely gives him little to say, resisting killing time with needless jabbering. Brody works fluently with what’s he’s got, sometimes using his nasal voice to simply aid his arduous forward movement. Sound design and music emerge as unusually dominant elements, and Michael Brook supplies both with equal parts evocation and ambiguity. I can assure you that it’s all going somewhere, but it’s uphill all the way, and looks pretty painful. Still, if you’re curious, you might just want to follow along.

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