Review: ‘The Unsaid’

A prominent psychologist who quit after his son's death is drawn into an exceptional case with drastic repercussions in "The Unsaid." Carefully plotted venture is nicely crafted on all levels and sustains a convincing aura of emotional discomfort as doctor and patient poke around in each other's wounded psyches.

A prominent psychologist who quit after his son’s death is drawn into an exceptional case with drastic repercussions in “The Unsaid.” Carefully plotted venture is nicely crafted on all levels and sustains a convincing aura of emotional discomfort as doctor and patient poke around in each other’s wounded psyches. Good perfs propel conventional but solid psychological thriller whose only drawback — in theme and musical score, rather than structure and visual treatment — is that it seems more suited to primetime TV than the big screen.

Dr. Michael Hunter (Andy Garcia) can’t convince his 16-year-old son Kyle (Trevor Blumas) to attend his sister Shelly’s opening performance in a school musical. When the Hunters return to their comfortable suburban Kansas home, they discover Kyle dead — a suicide.

In an immediate flash forward, it’s three years later. Michael, who is separated from his wife and frustrated over lost closeness with his daughter (Linda Cardellini), has abandoned hands-on therapy in favor of writing books and delivering the occasional lecture. He remains deeply haunted by his failure to prevent Kyle’s death.

When Michael’s former student Barbara (Teri Polo), a social worker, asks him to evaluate one of her charges at a boy’s reformatory, Michael begs off. But an initial meeting with Tommy (Vincent Kartheiser) intrigues him. Tommy, who is slated for release in six weeks when he turns 18, as a boy discovered his mother’s bloodied corpse on the kitchen floor. Tommy’s father, Joseph (Sam Bottoms) is serving a life sentence for killing his wife. Against his better judgment, Michael is drawn to the parallels he sees between Tommy and his beloved dead son.

Suspense builds as Tommy’s release date looms closer, with more secrets bubbling under the surface than the flat, beautifully lit prairie would suggest. Garcia gives a measured, convincing perf opposite Kartheiser, who projects boyish charm and precocious resourcefulness as needed. Cardellini and Polo are spot-on.

Production (with Saskatchewan repping Kansas) boasts a burnished, pleasing look that belies the sinister developments to come. While melodically easy on the ear, Don Davis’ score is far too present.

The Unsaid

U.S.-Canada

Production

A Rezo Films release (in France) of a New Legend Media presentation in association with Minds Eye Pictures, CineSon Prods., Eagle Pictures, Reynolds Entertainment, Kandu Entertainment. Produced by Tom Berry, Matt Hastings, Kelley Reynolds. Co-producers, Alex Campbell, Stefan Wodoslawsky. Co-executive producers, Andy Garcia, Al Munteanu, Kevin Dewalt. Directed by Tom McLoughlin. Screenplay, Miguel Tejada-Flores, Scott Williams; story by Christopher Murphey.

Crew

Camera (color), Lloyd Ahern; editor, Charles Bornstein; music, Don Davis; production designer, Gregory Bolton; art director, Hugh Shankland; set decorator, William Wright; costume designer, Jodie Tillen; sound (Dolby), Warren St. Onge; associate producer, Joseph Drago; assistant director, Linda Montanti. Reviewed at Deauville Film Festival (noncompeting) Sept. 7, 2001. Running time: 109 MIN.

With

Dr. Michael Hunter - Andy Garcia
Thomas Caffey - Vincent Kartheiser
Shelly - Linda Cardellini
Kyle - Trevor Blumas
Barbara - Teri Polo
Joseph Caffey - Sam Bottoms
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