"Uncertainty" Movie Review (2010)

1/28/2010 Posted by Admin

Movie Review


Directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel, Written by McGehee and Siegel, 101 minutes, Not Rated.

By our guest blogger, Rob Stammitti

"Uncertainty" begins on Brooklyn Bridge. It's the Fourth of July, and Bobby and Kate (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lynn Collins) have a decision to make. Go to dinner at Kate's mother's house, or play hooky and hit one of their friend's parties. Bobby pulls out a coin and flips it.

The film splits into two alternate timelines here--one where the couple goes to dinner at Kate's parent's place, and one where the two head into the city to enjoy their evening alone. It also splits into two genres--the former a domestic drama, the latter a thriller.

At Kate's childhood home, we see that things aren't too upbeat. Kate's mother is angry at her little sister Sophie (Olivia Thirlby) for turning down a scholarship in favor of going to California to pursue a career in acting. Kate's Alzheimers-ridden uncle keeps bringing up her tragically deceased younger brother. And Kate's mother clearly isn't too fond of Bobby and would rather have Kate date someone more wealthy and handsome.

In our other timeline, the couple hop into a taxi where they find a lost cell phone. Bobby calls some numbers attempting to find the owner only to find that the phone has something very important on it and several different groups of people are desperate to fight each other (and Bobby and Kate) to get it back.

The two separate stories are vastly different in tone, but they're surprisingly well balanced and the transitions between them are extremely effective--it's never jarring going from one to the other. However, the effectiveness of the respective stories varies. The domestic storyline is generally a lot more interesting and poignant, and these characters seem more suited for such a genre. The thriller, while occasionally interesting, gets pretty repetitive and contrived.

The dual storylines also make for a very original and charming way of developing the two main characters. A line of dialogue in the thriller plot will complement something we've just seen in the drama plot, for example. It's successful.

Of course, what writers and directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel are attempting to do is to convey themes of dualism and determinism. Every decision we make has a consequence, but not just a consequence, but more decisions, which lead to more, and so on. It's hardly a profound message--really, who doesn't already understand everything they do has a consequence? Despite this, it's often explored in subtle and intriguing ways, and the actions of the two main characters throughout the film are reasonably believable.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt has quickly become one of my favorite modern actors due to his phenomenal turns in "Mysterious Skin," "The Lookout" and "Brick," and though his performance here doesn't quite stand up to them he's still quite good and he has that deft charm he's had since he first started out. Collins, who was less than impressive in "Wolverine," makes up for it here with a very solid performance. Most of the supporting cast is great, especially Thirlby, who seems to always give stellar supporting performances but unfortunately never gets a good lead.

Much of "Uncertainty" is rather unremarkable and adequate, but its unique structure and excellent lead performers make it something well worth the watch--especially if you can't decide whether you want to watch a drama or a thriller. A definite indication of two writer/directors that could go on to greatness.

Grade: C+

View the trailer for "Uncertainty" below.  What do you think?

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