Water, water, everywhere. A nicely underplayed performance from Tilda Swinton as a mother desperately trying to shield her son from a murder rap rescues this somewhat creaky remake of Max Ophul's noir classic, The Reckless Moment. Left alone to care for her family while her naval officer husband is away at sea, Lake Tahoe housewife Margaret Hall (Swinton) finds her life quickly becoming a nightmare of epic proportions. The morning after a trip to Reno, where she confronts Darby Reese (Josh Lucas), the 30-year-old sleazeball she suspects of being the lover of her teenaged son, Beau (Jonathan Tucker), Margaret finds a dead body washed up on the shore of her lakefront property. It's Darby, and he appears to have been killed after falling or being pushed off the dock and onto the sharp end of a boat's anchor. Accident or not, Margaret realizes that Beau must be somehow involved, and quickly resolves to cover everything up. So in between carpools and caring for her ailing father-in-law (Peter Donat), Margaret finds herself disposing of a dead body and the flashy Corvette it rode in on. So far, so good until the doorbell rings. It's handsome blackmailer Alek Spera (Goran Visnjic) and he's got a videotape he thinks Margaret might be interested in buying. It stars Beau, graphically enjoying "40 minutes of budding sexuality" with Darby, and it clearly links her 18-year-old son with the dead body the police have just pulled from the lake. Ophul's 1949 film stands as a prime example of a particular kind of woman-in-distress thriller that ultimately served to convince post-WWII audiences that our returning servicemen were indeed needed on the home front: Children run wild and people get killed when mom's left in charge. Taken out of that very specific social context and updated for contemporary audiences, the retrograde story runs into problems. Margaret's character is written as if there were still a war on and single motherhood was brand new (surely this isn't the first time her husband's shipped out), and she comes off as both a barely competent mother and a weak, uninspiring heroine; it gets so bad even Alek begins feeling sorry for her. But sloshing her way through all the mayhem and overbearing water imagery is Swinton, and she's marvelously low-key. She lends Margaret an air of grace under pressure, and fleshes out feelings of domestic dissatisfaction a key element that otherwise remains buried in the subtext.
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 2001
- Rating: R
- Review: Water, water, everywhere. A nicely underplayed performance from Tilda Swinton as a mother desperately trying to shield her son from a murder rap rescues this somewhat creaky remake of Max Ophul's noir classic, The Reckless Moment. Left alone to care for he… (more)