cinema · EIFF19

Film review: Strange But True

British filmmaker Rowan Athale heads across the pond for his latest feature Strange but True, based on John Searles’ novel of the same name. The noir-thriller plot follows Philip (Nick Robinson) who has moved back to his hometown to recover from a broken leg. When heavily pregnant Melissa (Margaret Qualley) turns up at his door, she tells him that his brother Ronnie (Connor Jessup) is her child’s father. The strange part is…Ronnie was killed in a car accident five years earlier.

 After opening with such a preposterous premise, the script certainly has its work cut out to unravel this particular mystery. Splitting off into several strands, we see Philip and his family investigate the crazy situation in the present, and the tragic incident of Ronnie’s untimely death is shown through flashbacks. With the protagonist hobbling around on crutches, I can only assume it’s a nod to Hitchcock’s genre classic Rear Window, but neither his injury, nor he himself, seem to have any significance whatsoever.

 Athale expresses a degree of talent in the story set-up and establishes a sense of suspense through the music and camerawork, but the film suffers greatly from an inconsistent tone. The already implausible narrative manages to get increasingly silly, and the absurdity is accompanied by a progressively hammy score. Heads and eyes will roll by the time the unintentionally hilarious final act gets underway, and the only mystery left unsolved is why anyone signed up to this abomination in the first place.

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