MOVIE: zero (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: * (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
As I stared at my stack of DVDs and Blu-rays to review, I tried to decide which would be the best one to watch. In a near-literal “judging a book by its cover” experience, I picked “The Letter” because it touted the names of Winona Ryder and James Franco, along with the tag line, “She thought she saw a devil.” I also glanced at the Wikipedia entry to the movie and saw it classified as a thriller. Since October, the month of Halloween, was fast approaching, I decided to give this a whirl.
When will I ever learn that Hollywood is filled with liars?
“The Letter” is not a thriller. It is barely a film. It’s a boring, self-important, disjointed and pointless pile of tripe masquerading as a movie.
The story, what little there is, follows Martine Jamison (Ryder), who is starting rehearsals on her new play in New York. A new actor named Tyrone (Franco) causes problems on the set and develops a fascination with her. Over the next weeks, Martine becomes paranoid that someone is trying to poison her, and she begins to rewrite her play.
Honestly, that one-paragraph blurb makes more sense and is better constructed than the entirety of this film. Meant to be a minimalist slow-burn, the movie plods along and makes little sense. However, that nonsensical nature comes not from a complex plot but from long, drawn out scenes that are so dull I couldn’t keep focused on the movie.
Dialogue is delivered in a mumbling fashion, often with a deliberately uneven sound mix. Characters swerve in and out of scenes with little introduction or explanation. All this is supposed to put the viewer in Martine’s shoes to show her level of disorientation, but I felt like I was on fuzzy medication that just made me drowsy.
When I finally reach the ending of the film, which offers a mediocre explanation of what actually happened, I was so disinterested in the story and characters, I plain didn’t care. Honestly, the DVD of this film could have crapped out half-way through, and I wouldn’t have worried about finishing it ever again.
Forget the thriller moniker. This film is so insipid and meandering that it makes little sense and pulls zero sympathy for the characters. Reed Rothchild’s poetry is more meaningful.
The only special feature on this disc is the original theatrical trailer, which actually paints this movie as an intense thriller. If you’re going to suffer through this bore of a film, I suggest watching this trailer just to see how wildly different marketing can present a film. It’s shameful, really.