A 2002 movie featuring
Ben Affleck as a slick, young lawyer who is married to his boss' daughter but used to have an affair with
Toni Collette, the secretary who has some scary strings to pull when Affleck needs her help to get back at
Samuel L. Jackson, a recovering alcoholic that Affleck treats like dirt after they have a car crash

Directed by Roger Michell (best known for Notting Hill)
Written by Chap Taylor (who has this as his only writing credit on imdb.com, and if that is correct, it might explain a lot)

Attempt to make very long story short: After their cars crash, Jackson picks up a file that Affleck had dropped before driving off without giving him a ride, making Jackson too late for the hearing that could have granted him the right to see his children. The file he picked up turns out to be a vital paper in a trial in which Affleck represents his own (that is, his father-in-law's) law firm, and if he can't present it, he risks going to jail. So he needs to get hold of Jackson, and the insanity has barely begun. Trying to get back at each other, the mad revenge schemes escalate, Affleck has to rethink his life working for an immoral law firm and living with a wife who thinks that's all good, Jackson desperately tries to stop his wife leaving town with his children - et cetera. It might sound like soap, but it's very dark soap...

One of my favorite Norwegian movie critics said standing between Toni Collette and Samuel L. Jackson, Ben Affleck almost managed to look alive. I am tempted to agree. Collette is brilliant as always, and Jackson does a good job. Affleck's performance really isn't half bad, seeing William Hurt as Jackson's AA sponsor is a delight for a teenage fan of Children of a Lesser God, Dylan Baker is delightful as the "hired gun" who does nasty things to Jackson's bank balance, and Amanda Peet is convincingly yucky as Affleck's no-sense-of-morals-wife. All in all - the performances are good. They really had deserved a better story and script.

I found the movie really quite boring, long and not very touching, interesting or credible (of course one might be aiming for other things than credible, but then this still isn't the way to go). And the ending, which has reportedly been changed several times, ultimately against the director's will, looks glued on, a semi-happy ending on a dreary, dark movie that doesn't really do anything to me except bore me. I have nothing against dark movies in general, but they do need more of a purpose and a vision than this one. See Monster's Ball. See The Man Who Wasn't There. Or see this one for the sheer joy of watching Toni Collette - but she's not really in that many scenes.

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