THE TALL MAN-United States/Canada/France-2012
Written and Directed by Pascal Laugier
Watching The Tall Man is like driving on a road late at night that you think is familiar. You are under the impression that you know your way around and that your destination is just around the corner. But then you make the turn and everything changes; nothing seems the same, as if you’re in the middle of a bad dream about driving that you’ve woken up from only to find that you’re still dreaming the same damned bad dream. If what I just said seems confusing to you then you are on your way to understanding maybe 10% of the way I felt watching this movie. I’ll even go one better for you; after the movie ended and I was left sitting there shaking my head the first thing I did was consult the Wikipedia entry for the movie so that I could read a summary of the plot to determine whether I was understanding it correctly.
Jessica Biel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The A-Team) stars as Julia Dennings, a nurse in a small, dead town called Cold Rock, located somewhere in Washington state. Julia is the town nurse. Her husband, who passed away before the events of the movie, was the town doctor and was considered a ‘saint’ in the eyes of the townsfolk. The town was once a mining community; but that’s all gone now and Cold Rock and its citizens have all crawled in their graves and laid down to die, so to speak. To makes things even worse for this little Podunk town is a child abductor known as the ‘Tall Man’. Julia is skeptical that such a person exists until her own child is abducted and she must face up to the reality that the ‘Tall Man’ is all too real. I am going to stop right there. There is no way that I can tell you any more about this movie without giving away every single plot point.
The Tall Man is the latest film from Pascal Laugier. If the name rings a bell it’s because Laugier’s previous film was the intensely disturbing and insanely fucked-up French masterpiece Martyrs. I’m positive that with The Tall Man Laugier would have loved to have captured the lightning in a bottle that he did with Martyrs and he nearly does exactly that. Jessica Biel is fantastic in her role as Julia Dennings. Stephen McHattie (Pontypool, 300, Watchmen), as a federal agent assigned to the case, is one of the most reliable character actors working today. The film moves at a steady, comfortable pace. But it all goes back to driving on that road and thinking that you know where you are. The Tall Man is one of the few films of which I think a road map would have been beneficial.
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