Derailed

on November 11, 2005 by Kevin Courrier
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This intricately structured yet highly improbable suspense thriller tries to occupy the same terrain as "Fatal Attraction," where cheating husbands get warned of the horrors that await them if they stray. But that highly moralistic drama, which endorsed criminal behavior (if employed in service of protecting the family unit), effectively tightened the screws on the audience. "Derailed" derails itself with a ludicrous storyline.

Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is an ad executive in Chicago who carries the emotional weight of an unhappy marriage and the financial burden of a sick child with diabetes. One morning, while travelling to work on the commuter train, he meets Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston), a financial advisor who turns out to be as stressed and dissatisfied as him. They decide to have an affair, but once they park themselves in a seedy hotel, they're both brutally attacked by Philippe Laroche (Vincent Cassel), a burglar who breaks into their room. Since Charles is reluctant to go to the police, for fear of exposing his own infidelity as much as jeopardizing Lucinda's marriage, Laroche continues to extort money from him. "Derailed" is about how Charles learns to fight back to preserve his family.

While Owen brings a wiry intensity to his role, he also comes across bewildered, as if he's desperately dodging the numerous plot twists being hurled at him. Jennifer Aniston spends the movie relentlessly fighting the camera so that the only expressions we can read on her face are blank ones. Seizing an opportunity, Vincent Cassel eagerly jumps into the dramatic vacuum to add colorful scenery-chewing. Only rap star RZA, as Schine's office mate, provides a funny, relaxed and welcoming presence. "Derailed" ends up so frantic that every dramatic curve ball it fires at the audience turns into a cliché heading straight down the heart of the plate. Starring Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, Vincent Cassel, Melissa George and RZA. Directed by Mikael Hafstrom. Written by Stuart Beattie. Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Cooper. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated R for strong disturbing violence, language and some sexuality. Running time: 106 min

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