There really isn’t anything like a mind-turning movie where the guessing and wondering and waiting all add up to eventual frustration that you hope will be paid off in the end. And with a film like Amnesiac, you have this exact scenario. The film’s mystery is slowly unraveled, but ultimately doesn’t overstay its welcome. And it most certainly plays up the desperate times call for desperate measures aspect that often drives normal people into doing not-so-normal things. And although it’s nowhere near a perfect thriller, director Michael Polish (Big Sur) dials up the intensity, the feeling of unease, and surreptitiously moves the plot from moments of confusion to full-blown understanding without leaving you bereft.

What looks like a harmless car ride quickly turns tragic after a man (Wes Bentley) wakes up in an empty room, hooked up to monitors, and his memory taken from him. A mysterious woman (Kate Bosworth) helps to nurse him back to full health, claiming to be his wife, though you’re immediately suspicious of her words and actions. Also notable is that neither character has an actual name and it is never mentioned in the film. Bosworth only refers to Bentley as “honey” and nothing else the entire time. It really gives you the feeling that these events could happen to anybody, but it just so happened that it happened to them. The characters look, talk, and act like they come from another time (almost Pleasantville-like), but everything and everyone else outside of their bubble seems like they’re living in the present.

The two actors constantly have a series of conversations that always seem to end the same. You need to rest and you shouldn’t be out of bed taking precedent over most of the their exchanges. One of the stranger aspects of the film, and one which detracts from the story in order to give us exposition that is mostly one-sided, is the side plot of the police detective (Shashawnee Hall). Hall, also noticeably without a character name, is investigating this weird case, but sometimes all it feels like is a series of random acts and conversations that finally culminate in a merging with the main plot.

I suppose Amnesiac is intriguing in its own way, captivating only in a way that works when you’re not laser-focused on some of the imbalance between its plot and side plot. Kate Bosworth gives a stoic performance as a woman finally coming unhinged due to the desperation of her situation. Her transformation isn’t completely believable when all is revealed in the end if only because her backstory is underdeveloped. The same goes for Wes Bentley’s character, who spends 95% of the movie looking confused and not at all as questioning as he should be (but I suppose we can blame that on the amnesia). Every conversation, however, is laced with an intensity that is justified by the situation. The majority of the film is spent in the shadows of confusion and the question of whether of not Bosworth is really who she says she is, but I have to say I did enjoy the finale’s reveal and the shroud of mystery the film keeps even if the plot progression isn’t always well-balanced.

3star

Release Date: August 14, 2015 | Screenwriters: Amy Kolquist, Mike Le | Cast: Kate Bosworth, Wes Bentley, Shashawnee Hall, Olivia Rose Keegan | Genre: Mystery, Thriller | MPAA Rating: Not Rated

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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