Image courtesy of www.impawards.com
Clive Owen……….Charles Schine
Jennifer Aniston……….Lucinda Harris
Vincent Cassel……….Philippe Laroche
Melissa George……….Deanna Schine
Addison Timlin……….Amy Schine
Giancarlo Esposito……….Detective Church
With her time on Friends over and her high profile marriage to movie star Brad Pitt on the wayside, Jennifer Aniston is at a career crossroads. With four movies coming out over the next 12 months, the time for her to stop being Rachel and to become the sort of top level actress she has showed signs of being is upon her. With the sort of acting chops she’s shown in movies like Office Space and The Good Girl, going from being 1/6th of a successful television franchise to being a successful film actress requires a lot more than just a pretty face.
Aniston stars as Lucinda in the thriller Derailed. Charles (Clive Owen) meets her one day on the train into the city of Chicago. Having no cash on hand, she loans him train fare and they strike up a conversation. They share pictures of their kids and share their life story to one another. He’s a former teacher turned advertising executive, working to save up enough money to pay for expensive treatments for his sick child (Addison Timlin). She’s a financial advisor, making stock picks and other financial matters for heavy investors. They hit it off over the course of several days; he loves his wife and yet is intrigued by her.
She’s classy and elegant, enough to catch his eye when a woman bearing more would be under his radar. So one night they get drinks together and it turns into something more. Turning to a seedy motel, they wind up on the bed when suddenly a man (Phillippe Laroche) breaks into the room. Armed with a gun, he proceeds to mug Charles and rape Lucinda. Afterwards, they both decide to keep this a secret. Charles tells his wife (Melissa George) that he was mugged, and when that same man (calling himself Vincent) comes back looking for money from Charles, he finds himself the victim of a blackmail scheme. And while the setup leaves much to work with, Derailed turns into a rather lackluster film.
This isn’t a brilliantly told or all-together elegant film; Derailed becomes more of a mystery as to why Charles has to dodge and weave his way through this convoluted and transparent conspiracy against him as opposed to see what’s staring at him all along. The film plants many red herrings to try and throw the mystery off, but from the beginning any viewer with half a brain can figure out the conspiracy. While the plot stinks, Aniston shines in an otherwise dreary film.
While the tendency for many television actors who make the leap to the big screen would be to overplay things, Aniston shows a lot of subtlety to her part. Lucinda is many things, and to catch the eye of Charles requires more than just being a trashy office bimbo. She’s classy and elegant in her styling and demeanor; there’s a certain aura around Lucinda. She’s good at her job, most likely, and is probably a great salesperson. Certain things like how she holds her drink lend much more credence than anything she could ever say.
Too bad Clive Owen isn’t really up to task to match her. For a man who’s on the short list of great actors currently working in Hollywood, Owen seems to be a bit bored. 2004 featured his volcanic performance in Closer, and yet Owens has a sense that this material is beneath him and it shows. While he’s good for the part, the absolute fire inside that he brought to a character like Dwight in Sin City is missing in his Charles. He and Aniston have a great chemistry together for the first act of the film, and yet once the big mystery begins it seems as if Owen is let down by how the plot goes.