Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Source Code

By s. Tuesday, November 8, 2011 , , , , , , , ,
85/100 (2011, 93 min)
Director: Duncan Jones
Writer: Ben Ripley
Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Monaghan and Vera Farmiga

What would you do if you knew you only had one minute to live?

I usually use imdb's summaries for movies in the beginning of my reviews. But with the “Source Code” it's truly the best if you don't know anything prior to seeing it except for the fact that the man, played by Jake Gyllenhaal suddenly wakes up on the train and few minutes later the train explodes. But here comes the surprise – he doesn't die...

Two years ago most of us saw “Moon”, first feature film by David Bowie's son, Duncan Jones. The movie was beautifully filmed, had an interesting story filled with twists and turns and something that was its heart and soul – Sam Rockwell's masterful performance which was unjustifiably overlooked during Oscar season. Now Jones returns with “Source Code”. The movie doesn't feel as “fresh” as “Moon”, but it wins on another field – the characters.
It's impossible not to like Jake Gyllenhaal's heroes. I'm not one of his fan girls who drooled excessively during “Love and other drugs” (it's nice to see that Gyllenhaal starred in a great movie after this crapfest, there is hope for him after all), but he always plays characters I root for. He was very good choice for this part – we can easily believe he is a brave soldier, a man determined to save everybody else, we struggle with situation as he does. The best thing about “Source Code” is that from the very beginning we see and know what the main hero sees and knows. We learn things along with him and as he is shocked, scared or relieved, we experience it with him.

Yet again Jones uses the theme of isolation in his work. In “Moon” it was a space station where the only friend main character had was a robot. In “Source Code” the only connection Colter Stevens has to the world is a tiny screen and a microphone through which he talks with mysterious Goodwin (Vera Farmiga). With “Moon” we saw slow decomposition of person's mind and spirit, in “Source Code” we see the overwhelming will to survive. Stevens impresses us with his ability to adjust to any situation quickly and with his smart actions and correct judgement calls he gets more and more answers every time he gets back to the train. I seldom have this feeling of hope that the main hero is going to be fine by the end of the film - I felt it during “Source Code” almost throughout the entire movie.

What I like about the film is that it gives us the essentials – there are no boring scenes, everything is necessary, there are many conversations but each and every one of them reveals something to us. The characters are strong, despite seemingly little development and even Michelle Monaghan, who appears to be stuck playing nice pretty girls, makes an impression, even if it's fades away soon after seeing the movie and I bet anyone else could play her role. Farmiga however, who is one of my favorite actresses since “Orphan”, is in my opinion, in Cate Blanchett's league now. She is just amazing in her role – with so little she manages to do so much, she is both cold and compassionate, human and focused on rules and procedures. If a movie has Vera in it, I'll go see it no matter what.
The movie's biggest minus is the story which has so many impossibilities it places it into science fiction genre. With “Moon” the scenario that happened there can easily happen sometime in the future, with “Source Code” it's really insane concept I can't see happening at all. Nevertheless, I'm sure there were some real life basis to it and the idea itself is very interesting. The movie requires you to suspend your belief for 90 minutes but manages to do something rare – it's completely plausible in the context of its own rules, there are no glaring plot holes, so if you buy into the premise, you won't be distracted by the questions appearing in your head. The ending is not the best one that could come to one's mind, but it's satisfying. And I must note that near the end a kissing scene happens, that is so wonderful that should have a special place in cinema history.

I think it's safe to assume that “Source Code” will become one of this year's greatest movies. It has strong cast, entertaining story and fast pace, that at times, takes your breath away. I can't wait to see what Jones does next.

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