Combustible Celluloid
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With: Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver, Cillian Murphy, Elizabeth Olsen, Joely Richardson, Toby Jones, Craig Roberts, Burn Gorman, Karen David, Jan Cornet, Jeany Spark, Leonardo Sbaraglia, Garrick Hagon, Jesse Bostick, Gina Bramhill
Written by: Rodrigo Cortés
Directed by: Rodrigo Cortés
MPAA Rating: R for language and some violence
Running Time: 113
Date: 01/20/2012

Red Lights (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Psychic Connection

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Rodrigo Cortes last brought us Buried, a gruelingly intense thriller that used only one onscreen actor and one location. He continues that sense of paranoia, claustrophobia and tension in the more ambitious Red Lights. The very subtle writing, editing, and music create a mood of uneasiness and mistrust. Certain scenes don't even seem to be "really" happening. It's magnificently off-kilter and constantly gripping.

Dr. Margaret Matheson (Sigourney Weaver) and her young partner, Tom Buckley (Cillian Murphy) are top paranormal investigators. After debunking a haunting and a fake séance, Tom discovers that a famous psychic, Simon Silver (Robert De Niro), is coming out of retirement and going back on tour. Tom insists that they look into him and his act, but Margaret resists, due to a painful previous encounter with him. However, Tom continues his investigation, bringing in a gifted student, Sally (Elizabeth Olsen), for help. As he becomes more entrenched in a dangerous and mysterious world, he likewise becomes more obsessed. The only answer to the puzzle lies in what's real and what is just illusion.

The movie's main drawback is that, to reach its conclusion, it eventually answers its own unanswerable questions. However, it can be argued that this is necessary for the Tom Buckley character, even if it hurts the story; it's an inevitable conclusion in his personal journey. But since the movie is so focused on mood and character, Cortes draws excellent performances from Sigourney Weaver (her best in ages), Cillian Murphy, and even Robert De Niro, who is more gripping and mesmerizing than he has been in years.

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