Review of “Reptile” by Gran Singer, premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Festival, distributed by Netflix.
snake Starts out with such promise that it’s really a shame the third act falls apart completely. Some elements are taken to excess, strong decisions are replaced by bad decisions and the end result is a disaster. If everything had been a little more normal this would have been a normal process. It’s this initial personality that gets you excited, something that the film can’t sustain over its two-hour-plus duration.
There are definitely two different movies going on snake, both police procedurals, are a little weirder and more esoteric than you might expect. That film is worthy of inclusion in the Toronto International Film Festival. The second is a much more generic film, in which characters behave strangely to justify plot points. These are two different films going head-to-head here, and while the better film rules the first act, the second act becomes tied, and the worse film takes over in the end. In the end it proves to be a mixed bag, but something that feels a little disappointing.
The film begins by showing us the lives of real estate agents Will Grady (Justin Timberlake) and Summer Elswick (Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz). Will and Summer are a couple, with the expected ups and downs. One day, after Summer asks him to come over, Will goes to the house they are showing, and finds that she has been brutally murdered. The investigators on the case are Tom Nichols (Benicio del Toro) and his partner Dan Cleary (Ato Essandoh), under the supervision of Captain Robert Allen (Eric Bogosian) and Chief Marty Graber (Mike Pniewski). Tom is an excellent, quirky, detective who moves into this small Philadelphia town after his latest partner refuses to take him out. Early signs point towards Will, but of course, nothing is as it initially seems.
At home, Tom’s wife Judy (Alicia Silverstone) is always ready to help and share ideas. While on the job, he’s close to his captain, although he views other cops like Wally (Domenic Lombardozzi) with a bit more suspicion. As they investigate new suspects such as Sam Gifford (Karl Glusman) and Eli Phillips (Michael Pitt), more is revealed about Summer’s life and past, as well as the Grady family.
Music video director Grant Singer is as interested in the crime as he is in this cop’s life, observing Tom at work and at home. Del Toro brings a quiet intensity to every scene (Tom is especially adept at getting suspects talking), but this detective also displays some fun personality quirks. (For one thing, her nickname is Oklahoma because she dances so well.) Married to young Judy (Silverstone), who loves to tease her husband, Tom relies on her as a sounding board for the case. Does, practically turning him into her Watson, her Holmes. Whether he’s strangely obsessed with getting a fancy new faucet for his kitchen sink or giving unsolicited romantic advice to his commitment-phobic partner Dan (Ato Essandoh), he’s a dispassionate, funny guy who’s hard to read. And del Toro makes the character’s contradictions a fun puzzle to solve for the audience.
Unfortunately, some of the supporting performances are just as impressive. Silverstone displays just the right amount of see-it-all attitude as streetwise Judy, the only person who can push her obstinate husband’s buttons. (Of course, this is a little easier because Tom is worried that she is having an affair with someone on the construction crew renovating his house.) Playing Tom’s young partner, Essandoh helps Dan when he makes a serious mistake on the field. The loss of confidence is skillfully portrayed. There’s something only Eric Bogosian can do as a stereotypical tough police captain who doesn’t tolerate any foolishness, but Timberlake is poorly cast as Will.
In theory, Timberlake should have been ideal for playing a superficial businessman born into a successful family of real estate agents, whose grief over losing his beloved partner quickly fades when other attractive women catch his eye. There are, but he adds some depth to the story. Cowardly character which proves to be a major drawback. Tom learns elements of Will’s background.
One of the most interesting aspects of snake The thing is, this is del Toro’s first film as a screenwriter (he wrote the screenplay with Singer and Benjamin Brewer). This makes perfect sense, as the character of Tom Nichols plays to all of del Toro’s strengths as an actor, resulting in his most exciting and compelling performance since the first film. hitman, He clearly masters the sadness and cunning nature of his character, but he’s also incredibly adept at the dark humor of some of the film’s moments. This is exactly the type of role del Toro was put on this planet to play.
You can probably guess what we’ll find along the way. There are people who seem to be safe but are not. There are suspects who appear to be guilty but are not. There are people who hold grudges against the deceased and people with romantic relationships that may or may not exist. There is firing and chasing. There are police who follow up when asked to let things go. There are drugs that go missing from the evidence locker. There are police officers who have more expensive watches than they can afford, these last two things may be related).
It all unfolds in dramatic fragments, stopping and starting, in provocative but disconnected scenes. Singer’s modus operandi seems to be to introduce a scene, cue the piercing string section so you know we’re headed towards a key moment, and then end the scene prematurely, but a Or by hanging two giant, deadly wires in the air, (composer Yair Elazar Glotman could go deep into the film noir playlist and do the heavy lifting here).
It’s about telling stories in pieces, giving enough information and incentive for the audience to know that something is happening, but holding back so that they don’t discover it on their own. Over time, the misdirection will sort itself out, more or less, but inside snake Density is less satisfying than irritating. A good thriller can go in many different directions, but it should never be this boring.