Monday 9 October 2023

Movie Review: Reptile (2023)

Genre: Crime Drama
Director: Grant Singer
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Alicia Silverstone, Justin Timberlake, Eric Bogosian, Frances Fisher 
Running Time: 136 minutes

Synopsis: In New England, real estate agent Summer (Matilda Lutz) is brutally murdered. Detective Tom Nichols (Benicio Del Toro) questions Summer's boyfriend Will Grady (Justin Timberlake), who runs a successful real estate agency with his mother Camille (Frances Fisher). The other suspects include Summer's ex-husband Sam Gifford (Karl Glusman); and Eli Phillips (Michael Carmen Pitt), a neighbour who holds a grudge against the Gradys. DNA evidence appears to identify the perpetrator, but Nichols and his wife Judy (Alicia Silverstone) uncover clues pointing to a more insidious conspiracy.

What Works Well: The measured and well-marinated crime mystery unfolds at a deliberate pace, anchored by a weathered Benicio Del Toro performance and enriched by well-rounded characters and background depth. Director and co-writer Grant Singer colours-in life's details, including Tom's shady career background, his square dancing hobby, kitchen renovations project, complicated relationship with other detectives (including Eric Bogosian and Domenick Lombardozzi), and quietly tempestuous reactions to Judy's flirting. Short and sharp action sequences punctuate an otherwise cerebral focus on people and places.

What Does Not Work As Well: The substantial time invested in mood and details does not extend to the broad-brushed plot fundamentals. As Nichols pushes deeper into the web of deceit, the criminal roles and responsibilities remain blurry and hampered by absent antagonist voices, ultimately undermining the carefully constructed narrative foundations.

Conclusion: Elaborate packaging overwhelms less-developed substance.

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