Kim Basinger is back, and in a big way, at least acting-wise. The 11th Hour marks her return to acting and she’s chosen to portray a character who has different sides to her, offering up a lot for Basinger to give. The film, which has a lot going for it, alters between shocking, suspenseful drama, and an almost sinister factor which isn’t anticipated going in. With a strong first half, the film becomes weighed down as it spirals in another direction.
Maria (Kim Basinger) is desperate to have a child. Having been trying to conceive with her husband Peter (Sebastian Schipper) for ten years, the last two of which have resulted in eight miscarriages. The doctor finally tells her enough is enough after she loses too much blood during her last miscarriage. So ultimately, she cannot have children and this knowledge devastates her to the point of breaking up her marriage and being on the brink of depression.
With her marriage on the rocks, a practically catatonic Maria unwisely decides to go to a heavily sex trafficked area of the Czech Republic, where she convinces (bribes, really) an addict named Petit (Jordan Prentice) to help her “save” an infant from the trade, resulting in dire circumstances she never imagined she’d be in.
The 11th Hour, if anything, is ambitious. There are so many nuances and layers to it that can’t begin to be described in only a few sentences. It starts off extremely strong, the events of the film leading us to believe that we know where it’s heading and it’s going to be an emotional drama about facing Maria’s childless reality. But director Anders Morgenthaler makes a U-turn at the halfway mark and turns around to go in a very different direction.
The film is creepy, dark, and deeply depressing on the character front. Kim Basinger puts in a fantastic performance as Maria. Her desperation and hopelessness leads her down a very gray and disturbing road. We know she needs help, but takes aggressive action in order to get what she wants and we’re torn between feeling utterly sorry for her and being convinced that she’s gone off the reservation completely. Maria is definitely not one-sided and though her actions are very questionable, she, along with her strange partnership with Petit will keep you riveted.
The downside to the film is that it falters somewhat in the second half. The plot becomes a bit questionable and shaky as the film continues to unfold. The voice of a child is heard speaking to an oblivious Maria throughout the film, calling her “mommy.” And while the voice holds our curiosity, it doesn’t always fit into the film except to keep us guessing. The ending alone is something that will keep hold of your thoughts long after it ends, simply because it’s that trippy type of ending that had me rewinding just to see if I’d missed something.
The 11th Hour is one of those dark and broody films that works in its own bizarre way. We don’t get quite what we’re expecting and the performances, along with the plot’s unfolding, keep us going, but the third act doesn’t quite deliver on anything as coherent as the first two acts do, and so the film spirals away from its strength. Regardless, a highly intriguing film and fresh take on a subject that is always sad to watch.