Saturday, September 09, 2006

RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR - what would happen if a dirty bomb dropped on LA?

I'm conflicted about the new disaster movie RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR. Counting against it is the shameless exploitation of releasing a movie about terrorists dropping dirty bombs on LA so close to the 9/11 anniversary. Also counting against it are the ultra low-budget and deliberately grainy photography. (What do I know? It won an award at Sundance.) Maybe because of the low budget, or maybe as a straightforward artistic choice, first-time writer/director, Chris Gorak chooses to show nothing of the central disaster. We see nothing of the bombs exploding or of the contaminated crowds being penned in by riot police. We don't see 24-style counter-terrorist agents running around saving the world or simulated TV coverage of unfolding disaster. Rather, the movie focuses on one man and his experience of the tragedy.

The movie get right to the point: a man kisses his wife goodbye, she drives off to work and then he hears about the attacks on the radio. Pretty soon he sees plumes of smoke on the horizon and cop cars preventing him from heading downtown. With the help of the handy-man next door he seals up his house to keep out the toxic ash and mourns for his wife. Then his wife turns up. Should he let her in and risk contamination? Should she sit outside and wait for the authorities to come help her or try to storm a hospital? The bulk of the movie deals with the husband and wife basically talking about these dilemmas. It's actually fairly dull - the audience falls into a monotonous day-to-night routine as much as the actors. And the acting (
Rory Cochrane and Mary McCormack) is fine, but nothing great. All in all, I had the sinking feeling that the movie was wasting 90 minutes telling us what we already know - that in the event of such an attack the government would probably try its best but be completely inadequate to meet the health and public order needs of the public. But the final ten minutes of RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR contain a much advertised twist and, as rarely happens, I was genuinely staggered. I had to reassess my whole viewing experience. Which means, I reckon, that this movie is worth checking out if you fancy something uncomfortable. But I can't say I found it to be a must-see "great" film, whatever that means.

RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR opened in the UK yesterday and rolls into Germany next January. I do not know of a US release date.

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