THE DEBT--Directed by John Madden/Starring Helen Mirren, Sam Worthington, Jessica Chastain,Tom Wilkinson/written by Matthew Vaughn, Jane Goldman and Peter Straughan/rated R/144 mins
Bifocal Review by Barbara and Gordon Rich
(B) I liked this film. I think, I liked it a little more than the film Contagion, which we also viewed this weekend. The Debt, for me was more suspenseful and had fewer lulls than its competitor for box-office bragging rights. However, there was one nagging problem for me with the script. Without giving too much away, it didn’t make sense that all the inner suffering and sacrifice that went on for the characters in the film, didn’t seem to equate with the motivations that were laid out for the viewer. One character’s actions didn’t seem to warrant the decades long lie that was the core of the story. In the end, I give this film 3.1 binoculars, as I am forced to grade it slightly higher than Contagion, if only to make sense of my opening statement.
(G) Once again, Jessica Chastain stole the film for me. She is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses, as she has shot to stardom with two of the most versatile portrayals I’ve seen since…well, Helen Mirren came on the scene. Ironically, Chastain’s character in THE DEBT, is Helen of a younger age. Congratulations to Michelle Guish for the casting of this film. I’m never quite sure how much of that credit is warranted for a casting credit, because I’m not sure what a casting director does really, but in this case I say…perfect choice. For those of you who do not know the name yet (and that would be most people at this point I’d guess) Jessica Chastain also portrayed the white trash, Celia in the movie The Help and even though Sean Penn and Brad Pitt are also in the Tree of Life (which we’ve yet to see) I may now get around to the film merely because Chastain is in it. She’s been called the next Meryl Streep, but with her playing the young Helen Mirren in THE DEBT, I call her the next Helen Mirren instead. As for the other characters, well what praise can we give the actual Helen Mirren that we haven’t already? Tom Wilkinson is no slouch either. However, the story seemed a bit contrived for me and at some points it just didn’t add up at all. As a writer, the script is the most important part of the film and the story must be engaging enough to overshadow the fact that we must, at time “suspend disbelief.” In this film’s case, however I was not compelled to do much in the way of suspending. If it weren’t for the actors I mentioned above, I think the final score would have been much lower. Following Barbara’s decimal diversion from tradition, I give this one a 2.9 Binoculars. Mirren and Chastain get fours.