Saturday, October 22, 2005

Movie Review: 11:14

United States, 2003
U.S. Release Date: 10/11/05 (DVD)
Running Time: 1:25
Rated: R (Violence, sexuality, and pervasive language)
Cast: Hilary Swank, Colin Hanks, Rachael Leigh Cook, Henry Thomas, Shawn Hatosy, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Swayze, Ben Foster, Clark Gregg, Blake Heron

Director: Greg Marcks
Producers: Mark Damon, Stewart Hall, Jeff Kwatinetz, Sammy Lee, David Rubin, Hilary Swank, Tripp Vinson
Screenplay: Greg Marcks
Music: Clint Mansell
Studio: New Line Cinema


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Subsequent to trumpeting through the festival circuit in 2003 and garnering all positive remarks, 11:14 never received the widespread US distribution that first-time writer/director Greg Marcks desired. Instead, more than two years after his picture debuted at various film festivals, New Line finally released 11:14 - in one theater - and then dumped it on DVD. It is truly an indignity that so few eyes have been privileged to this film; this ultra-limited release truly is a treasure of a find.

The definitive reason why a major production company did not purchase Marcks’ feature sooner was that no studio could decide on how to market the film. Was it a clever gimmick, a black comedy, or an insistent drama? Well, the answer is: all of the above. 11:14 is a screenplay that any writer would be proud of; it’s taut, original, and capable of captivating an audience as it folds back upon itself in a deeply intriguing manner.

11:14 has already been called a combination of Go, Crash, and Memento. Yes, it’s an intertwining ensemble piece, and yes, the story unfolds in a non-chronological order; however, this film applies an entirely different central premise than the aforementioned.

In eighty-five minutes, 11:14 connects the lives of 11 characters in five separate storylines. Each of these character’s actions crisscross with negative consequences, as the clock strikes precisely 11:14 pm—unveiling murder, deceit, and a series of sorrowful emotions. Providing any more details would most likely lessen the shock-value of each plot element as it is revealed.

While Marcks’ direction is superb—for a new-comer to the game, his concept of the reality of time seems a little distorted. For instance, Cheri’s last 20 minutes feel more like 45. In addition, Marcks could have easily tacked on an additional 15-20 minutes to the conclusion to both provide closure and allow the characters to breathe. Nonetheless, this writer/director wholly succeeds with a crisp script packed with creative characterizations and sharp twists—making his name one to keep an eye on in the future.

A sterner gripe can be made with Clint Mansell’s soundtrack. After handling the score to Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream (one of the best cinematic score’s of all-time), better is expected. Also, with a lackluster rendition of “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” playing over the film’s final minutes, one has to ask, why would such a distractingly unpleasant track be chosen to match such a finely-crafted closing?

Nevertheless, in stressing the repercussions of unethical acts and the power of karma, Greg Marcks’ well thought-out debut is worth every penny spent, as well as your time. Go out and rent it; heck, go out and buy it. And, if you really want to impress your friends, start the film at 9:49 pm—that way, as the credits roll, the clock will read precisely 46 to midnight. (***1/2 out of ****)

© Copyright Brandon Valentine 2005