Sunday, April 17, 2011

I'd Rather Forget This Movie: "Amnesia" (1997)

This strange combination of "Misery" and "Memento" tries to be a nutty dark comedy, but without the nuttiness or comedy.

Paul (Nicholas Walker) is a small town pastor caught in a loveless marriage with mousy Martha (Ally Sheedy), and some hot naughty sex with his stepson's teacher Veronica (Dara Tomanovich). Paul and Veronica meet at an out of the way motel run by the slightly unbalanced Charlene (Sally Kirkland).

Charlene is in love with Paul, listening in on Paul and Veronica's illicit sex. Paul has been registering at the motel under a fake name- the same name as a young boy who drowned in the local lake years before. The boy was a playmate of Paul's, who saw the accident, and the body was never found.

Paul hits on a plan. He will stage his own death at the lake, his body won't be found, and he will run off with Veronica. Paul goes "fishing," has a flashback to his childhood friend's death and falls, injuring himself for real.

Paul ends up back at Charlene's, with no clue as to who he is, and Charlene is more than happy to bed him with untrue stories about his identity. Slobby insurance investigator Tim (John Savage) arrives to investigate Paul's death. As Veronica waits for contact from Paul, Charlene has him tied up to keep him with her, and Martha tries a liberating fling with Tim.

It is bizarre to see talents like Sheedy, Kirkland, and Savage is such a seedy direct to video effort. The script should have been smarter and funnier than it is. The goofy mouth harp and strings musical score tells you the film is tongue in cheek. However, there is no character for the viewer to get behind. Unlike "Misery," you have no sympathy for Paul as a captive. Charlene's crazy, Tim's a pig, Veronica's a slut, and Martha is almost likable before turning against character and becomes a femme fatale. That leaves Martha's kid. Too bad he got stuck in this.

Too many plot points are left unexplored. Was Paul responsible for his playmate's death? What happened to Martha's first husband? How many people live in this "small" town- eleven?

In the end, you won't need amnesia to finish "Amnesia." It's instantly forgettable. (* *) out of five stars.