Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Inspired by his girlfriend's photography, journalist Brian Kessler (David Duchovney) realizes that a combination of photography from the locales of infamous serial killers along with his own perspectives on the crimes could form the foundation of a best seller. Kessler has spent his advance money and needs some financial assistance to bring his dream to reality. He needs someone to split expenses on a criss-cross-country trip to California, stopping at the infamous crime locations along the way. What Kessler does not expect is that he might be closer to getting into the mind of a serial killer than he really ever wanted to be.

Tim Metcalf wrote the screenplay for Kalifornia, which is based on an original story he wrote along with Stephen Levy. The story provides something very different and gripping. I thoroughly enjoy thrillers, and this one provides all the elements to a good thriller. It moves at a good pace, it reveals just enough to keep you wondering when the hammer is going to drop, it has characters that can be unpredictable, the premise offers opportunities for good action and the dialogue adds to the suspense. If anything, the story moves over-the-top at times, slipping into extreme stereotypes or incorporating elements that stretch believability to a breaking point. But the interesting characters, although a bit flat and stereotyped somehow seem to engage the audience. The plot has some predictabiilty, but provides enough twists and turns to keep things interesting.

I appreciate David Duchovney in his Showtime series, Californication. Duchovney convincingly plays a man-ho in that series. Seeing Duchovney sixteen years younger was a shock. He was a bit gangly and green in this film. Not that I didn't like him or his character...but he was not nearly as believable as the backwoods trailer-trash bubba, Early Grayce. Grayce was brought to life by a much younger Brad Pitt, who completely unleashed this character in the film. The character has some cartoonish traits, but Pitt appears to become lost inside this character. Pitt was exceptional. Juliette Lewis also has a character given over to cliche...but she did an excellent job of selling a part that might otherwise have lacked any credibility. Lewis plays Grayce's childish girlfriend, who refuses to believe he is bad because he protects (as well as beats her). Michelle Forbes rounds out the primary cast as Carrie Laughlin, the misunderstood photographer whose photographs are too graphic for "main-stream consumption." Another one-dimensional role that Laughlin makes work with her hot jet-black bob-style hairdo. The cast members had great chemistry, adding to the suspense.

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