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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

I Think We're Alone Now

Derailed (2005) on IMDb

Plot Overview

From inside a prison we're looking at bars and rows of cells. "GET READY FOR YARD!" the loud­speaker announces. Cell doors clang open and rows of convicts attired in prison-blue file towards the open area where they'll play basket­ball, work out, what­ever. One inmate at Illinois State Penitentiary remains behind to compose a story in his note­book: “The morning it all began began like any other morning.” We are taken in medias res to the suburbs where successful commercial executive (at JMD/March) Charles Schine (Clive Owen) and his wife Deanna Schine (Melissa George) discuss the glucose levels (“The levels are the same”) of their diabetic adolescent daughter Amy (Addison Timlin). If she's not improving, at least she's not getting worse.

Her dad the ex-teacher—he'd taken a better-paying job to be able to afford his kid's experimental treatment—is helping his daughter with her home­work. He explains to her how an author uses seduction in the opening of a work to draw his reader in. She asks for a better word, and her (smart) mom suggests intrigues. “The author intrigues the reader by twisting the narrative,” the father explains, “so you never know what's coming next.” Let's you and I take for illustration, a Mark Billing­ham novel: (5)

The hotel was a five-minute walk away. Tucked behind Kingsway and within conveniently easy reach of Hawthorne Station and a well-stocked chemist. A notch or two up from a Travelodge with­out being silly money.

He took out his wallet as they approached the reception desk.

‘I'm not a hooker,’ Anna said.

‘I know that.’

‘I'm perfectly happy to pay my share of the room.’

‘Look, it's not a problem,’ he said. ‘You said you were temping, so …’

‘Fine, whatever.‘ She caught the eye of the young man behind the desk. He nodded politely, then looked away, sensing he should not show any sign he had seen her before. ‘If you want to be flash, you can order us a bottle of some­thing,’ Anna said, then turned and walked across the lobby.

Immediately the reader is intrigued and wonders what happens next. Webster defines “intrigue vb 4: to arouse the interest, desire, or curiosity of <intrigued by the tale> ~ vi: to carry on an intrigue, esp: plot, scheme.” This morning that “began like any other morning” implies that it takes a turn some­where, gets “derailed” as it were. This intrigue draws the viewer in. That it's being written about in prison implies some­thing shady or unsavory went down, some kind of under­handed “plot, scheme” as it were.


We know from our everyday life, looks can be deceiving. “He supposed it was the same as with cons them­selves. Often those who looked like full-on nutters wouldn't say boo to a goose, while the ones who sat good as gold in the library all day, would tear your head off if you took a piss out of the book they were reading” (Billing­ham 198). Convict Philippe LaRoche (Vincent Cassel) sitting quietly writing is the kind you don't want to cross. Schine, how­ever, for all his swagger used to be a teacher, of all things, and ten years as a commercial publicist had not hardened him to handle even a demanding account, let alone a serious black­mailer. For that matter the mail room clerk Winston (RZA) whose help Schine had enlisted for having done time was no match for LaRoche. “LaRoche has a record for three other murders; two in Paris and one in New York.” In prison there's kind of a hierarchy depending one's conviction(s), by which LaRoche would be king of the hill. That coupled with the poor health of smart adolescent Amy, should clue us to take a close look at, (Eccl. 4:13-14) “Better is a poor and a wise child than an old and foolish king, who will no more be admonished. For out of prison he cometh to reign; whereas also he that is born in his kingdom becometh poor.”

LaRoche would not be admonished to back off from his blackmail demand, but the child Amy's declining health necessitated her parents' savings for her treatment. This movie suggests an allegorical application, as well. The attention to the right word (intrigues) for Amy's home­work assignment, Winston's challenging base­ball-player puzzle, and LaRoche's note­book suggest an application to the words used in trans­lating the scripture. After all, good native words used in the King James Version (KJV) have found them­selves poor in usage through time, while words in modern trans­lations come from every­day use in a fallen world reminiscent of prison, the latter translations coming to dominate in the churches and to place them­selves beyond criticism.

Particularly given the plot of “Derailed” the word fornication used in the KJV would be applicable. Webster defines, “fornication : human sexual inter­course other than between a man and his wife.” It is expressly forbidden in the (KJV) Bible. Modern English Bibles almost universally substitute the relativistic phrase “sexual immorality” in the prohibition(s). In “Derailed” rape is presented as sexual immorality, no problem there, but adultery gets kinder treatment. Schine has the following conversation with his boss Eliot Firth (Tom Conti) at work:

Charles Schine: Eliot, I'm in trouble.

Eliot Firth: What kind of trouble?

Charles Schine: I cheated on Deanna.

Eliot Firth: You never cheated before?

Charles Schine: No.

Eliot Firth: Everybody cheats, Charles and you know what? Everybody gets over it.

Charles Schine: No, this is different.

Eliot Firth: Everybody says it's different too. Don't worry you'll be fine...

Charles Schine: There's this man...

Eliot Firth: – I don't wanna know who it was with.

[Charles sighs]

Eliot Firth: Buy Deanna some flowers, talk it over with her, try not to get caught next time. Now, for God's sakes would you help me fix this piece of crap?

Fornication (adultery) isn't really on their radar as sexual immorality. On the train one day a woman Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) flashed a lot of leg from her seat, to be ogled by all the males in the car, including Charles. They could listen to sermons against sexual immorality until the preacher was blue in the face with­out any of them applying it to this situation. How­ever, the salient point for Charles would be, (Romans 7:7-8) “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupi­scence.” The word concupi­scence could require a trip to the dictionary, much like poor Amy might require an emergency insulin injection at times, but it's better than being left up in the air as these modern versions leave us.

Production Values

The movie “Derailed” (2005) was directed by Mikael Håfström. Its screen­play was written by Stuart Beattie based on the novel, Derailed by James Siegel. It stars Clive Owen, Jennifer Aniston, and Vincent Cassel. Jennifer Aniston looked great and excelled with less exposure than usual in an atypical role. Clive Owen gave an excellent performance and showed very good chemistry with both Jennifer Aniston and Melissa George. Vincent Cassel was a sublimely menacing and creepy villain.

MPAA rated “Derailed” R for strong disturbing violence, language and some sexuality. The unrated version won't add much to the R one. “Derailed” is a nearly perfect thriller. Besides the astonishing plot twists and intricately layered story there were the camera choices. The angles left you feeling you were really in the room, not just watching a screen play on a wall. The colors were gritty. Mikael Håfström did good cinematography.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

“Derailed” I found to be solid and suspenseful. It's what you want a movie like this to be. No complaints in my book. Go see it or rent it.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Billing­ham, Mark. From the Dead. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010. Print. Used by permission.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.