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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Whole World Is Crazy Save Me and Thee;
Lately I'm Beginning To Wonder About Thee.

The Cry of the Owl on IMDb

Plot Overview

presentationvegetablespenguin on skisapplying makeupboy and girlTCOTO was adapted by its writer/director from a Patricia High­smith novel allowing the astute viewer to piece together its back­story from embedded clues. In it college grad Robert Forrester (Paddy Considine) became a valued aero­nautical designer in the prestigious, New York firm Joseph Keys. We see his cool aero­dynamic designs on display. One day at an art gallery he spies a woman Nickie Grace (Caroline Dhavernas) standing so still she looks like an exhibit her­self until she moves—like a space craft coming out of orbit. He falls for her in a rush and it's “all down­hill from there.” They get married. She was out to attract a rich, cultured guy, we suppose. At age 37 he is now being divorced by this picture perfect bride who turned out to be a drunk and a slovenly house­keeper. She can't cook and when he does, she mistakes his vegetable knife for a threat. To escape the angst associated with her presence in the home, he moves to Humbert in northeastern Pennsylvania and takes a job with a smaller company Lavigne Aeronautics where he's appreciated and tolerated in his eccentricities: inappropriate jokes, sans tie attire, late arrival. He gives important presentations on his designs. Then he feels like a peri­patetic hobo when his company wants him to move yet again for a promotion.

Welcomeinto storagesleeping womanHe has placed all his "stuff" in storage so as not to be reminded of the marital strife surrounding it, an “anal” type with a disordered wife. His new suburban rental is devoid of any bric-a-brac what­so­ever. At this point it would have been helpful for his new work buddy Jack Neilson (Gord Rand) to invite him over for dinner with the family—he hadn't met their kid yet—to help him get his bearings on what a harmonious family unit looks like, but instead he tries to fix Robert up with eligible women even though his divorce is not yet final. Maybe Nickie will change her mind—Ha!—or the way this movie goes one of them may die. Bored Robert wanders around his environs at night and stops—more than once—at the lighted windows of an isolated house to observe its sole occupant Jenny Thierolf (Julia Stiles)—who works banker's hours—happily going about her domestic chores. In the country people are hospitable & curious about their neighbors, so when she discovers him out there, she invites him in and in the course of time they become intimate, which shouldn't have happened as he's “sort of married.”

winged fairysaplingsAlthough Jenny is a tidy home­maker, there is some­thing screwy going on with her upstairs. When she was ≈15, her father's friend stayed at their house for a time, and her little brother got sick and died soon after­wards. She's got it into her head that the one was the harbinger of the other. Fortunately, she treats it like her favorite food blue­berry pancakes: The berries keep their form quite well in the cooking, and she treats these “harbingers” as discrete events. Not so with this new stranger entering her life whose presence expands exponentially in her mind. Robert is more like her favorite, Louis Armstrong song, “A Kiss to Build a Dream On.” She keeps trying in vain to interpret the signs associated with his appearing, but there is no greater meaning in it than what it is. This cannot end well for her, and it upsets her erst­while boy­friend Greg Wyncoop (James Gilbert) whom she'd uncere­moniously dumped. Her friend Susie Escham (Jennifer Kydd) on a group trek through the woods to see (“The sun's going down”) a sunset (“it's beautiful”)—a product of light refraction through the air—had wanted her to stick with the “nice” guy rather than take up with one unknown. We suppose she really needed to follow advice from author Paul Landis, In Defense of Dating::

It is quite logical to believe that some kind of dating is necessary to the development of the judgment and pair interaction that is at the root of real objectivity in mate selec­tion. Those who have dated more than one person have a chance to compare and to learn some of the usual behavior patterns of members of the opposite sex. They learn to distinguish between those whose personalities seem to promise a durable compatibility and those whose personalities obviously do not. Dating is an explor­atory experience through which young people learn. In most circles today, there­fore, it is considered desirable that young people “circulate” rather than “go steady” from the beginning, that some variety of dating experi­ence is favorable to ultimate mate choice. The girl who is considered desirable as a date by a number of fellows is presumed to be the one most likely to be sought after in marriage. (223)

This would fulfill her need for mystery if she keeps it up in the air whom she will eventually settle with, and an extra acquaintance would be lost in the mix not worrying Susie. If she can postpone the sex act to marriage, why, there's another mystery awaiting her.

fisheshobo signold men playing
chessIf Robert were just another guy seen hanging out with Jenny, Greg would likely not have assaulted him on a lonely stretch of road above deep, cold Crystal River. After Robert a lefty clocks him with a lucky punch and leaves him dazed on the bank, he splits (under­standably) but when Greg turns up missing, the police have questions. Robert dissembles as much as the next guy for social advantage, and it didn't look to me like Greg could have rolled back down into he drink, but talking to the police it won't look good for an aero­space designer to be a gravity denier. And once Robert's name makes the papers as a person of interest in the disappearance, he will quickly discover the disadvantage of a small town where every­one knows every­body else's business. The hobo option might start looking good.


get together

coffee timecookie barkThe book's plot is successfully adapted into this movie under review, but it needs some­thing to grease the skids, as it were. That is found in, (Eccl. 10:19) “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry: but money answereth all things.” At Jack & Sally's anniversary gathering, every­one (except Robert) seemed to be having a jolly good time, but Robert needed some­thing less intense. Jenny provided that by inviting him in for coffee and cookie. Later they dined a couple times at upscale La Castle Restaurant, and at a diner, and for breakfast at home. This gave them a chance to let their hair down and for their relationship to progress.

Robert shared a beer with friend and neighbor taking the weight off his depression and disrupting the aim of an assailant.

money bagsMoney provides a solution to all kinds of problems. When it dawns on Jack that it's his wedding anniversary and he's forgotten all about it, he purposes to stop and buy some wine and candy on the way home, but he doesn't have his credit card on him, either. Robert generously pulls out a wad of cash and saves the day. The police are stymied when they have a suspect but not enough evidence to make a charge stick, or for that matter no certainty whether there's even been a crime in the first place. When a money trail comes to light, though, they are not going to put it down as coincidence.

Production Values

” (2009) was written and directed by Jamie Thraves who adapted it from a Patricia High­smith novel, The Cry of the Owl. It's a remake of the 1987 French film with the same title. It stars Paddy Considine, Julia Stiles and Caroline Dhavernas. All the performances were excellent. Beautiful Dhavernas pulled off the deceptive wife: a bitch under the skin. Considine did not overact his sullen part.

red maple leavesMPAA rated it R for violence and language. It's a book-derived drama, so don't expect a fast pace. The fisti­cuffs seemed genuine and the blood looked real. Though it's a mystery it's easy to follow. The cinema­tog­raphy by Luc Montpellier enhances the haunting creepiness of the film. Jeff Daniels's minimal musical score accents the tension. The editing is at times abrupt. It was filmed in rural Canada. Runtime is 1 hour 40 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

owlPoor decisions on multiple fronts mount up until it seems hopeless for the protagonist. A good move at the end provoked by a fluttering owl might help him pull his chest­nuts out of the fire. As author John Fowles once put it, “How do you think Christianity started? Or any­thing else? With a little group of people who didn't give up hope” (140). This is a mystery drama able to be appreciated by aficionados of a good read. It's more a nail-biter than a fast hitter. Character roles are hard to figure out, which challenge adds to its appeal. I really enjoyed it.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Good for Groups. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quotation from the Authorized King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Fowles, John. The Collector. Copyright © 1963 by John Fowles. Copy­right renewed © 1991 by John Fowles Reading Group Guide. Copy­right © 2010 by the estate of John Fowles and Little, Brown and Company. New York: Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Co., 1997. Print.

Landis, Paul H. Making the Most of Marriage. New York: Meredith Publishing, 1965. Print.