Monday, February 18, 2013

CHERRY TREE LANE (2010) movie review

Cherry Tree Lane (2010) d. Williams, Paul Andrew (UK)

It’s a little sad when the words “just another home invasion flick” are all that keep running through one’s head for the 81 minutes that Brit writer/director Williams takes to go from start to finish, but that’s pretty much all that it is. Uptight suburban couple Rachael Blake and Tom Butcher sit down for yet another tense evening dinner together when a knock on the door turns their acidic nighttime routine into a nightmare. Three thuggish youths (Jumayn Hunter, Ashley Chin, Sonny Muslim) storm into the house, smack the couple around, duct tape them up and then settle in to wait for their son to come home. Apparently, sonny boy’s been telling tales and needs to be hushed up.

Really, that’s all that can be said. The performances are strong and Williams (who impressed with 2008’s The Cottage as well as delivering the superlative screen story for The Children the same year) is clearly showing what he can do with a limited budget and shooting location, but no new ground is explored much less broken. All the characters have human faces, all have moments of strength and weakness, all are flawed but recognizable.

Hunter exudes an appreciable amount of charisma as the leader of the hoods, Blake and Butcher find many varied levels of fear and loathing, Chin and Muslim turn their supporting roles into genuine human beings, etc. It’s a perfectly serviceable effort and all are to be lauded for their efforts.

So why aren’t I more celebratory, flinging superlatives high and low? Because with the exception of the ambiguous closing blackout, there’s nary an original moment on display – a realization which dampens my enthusiasm considerably. I appreciate the fact that a competent film has been made by all concerned, and I wish them well with this and future endeavors, but considering Michael Haneke’s Funny Games did all this 15 years ago and managed to log numerous vibrations on the “never seen that before” scale, I guess I wanted our UK boys to push just a little harder.

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