Combustible Celluloid
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With: Genesis Rodriguez, Vincent Piazza
Written by: Daley Nixon, Brendan Walsh
Directed by: Brendan Walsh
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 89
Date: 08/28/2020

Centigrade (2020)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Cold Blooded

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Available on digital/VOD, Centigrade is one of those "trapped" movies in which people are stuck in a confined location for an indefinite length of time.

Sometimes these movies focus on a single character, as in 127 Hours, Buried, or All Is Lost, and sometimes they focus on a duo or a group, such as 47 Meters Down, the original Frozen (not the Disney film), or Devil.

Centigrade is about a married couple, which, in retrospect, was probably not a good idea.

In the story, pregnant, published writer Naomi (Genesis Rodriguez) is on a small book tour in Norway with her husband Matt (Vincent Piazza).

They wake up in the car, having pulled over during a storm, to find that they are stuck inside the car, buried in snow and ice.

Naomi immediately starts harping on poor Matt. She also does unwise things like leaving the cap off of the water bottle, allowing spillage of their precious supply.

And when she suddenly gets a phone signal, she wastes the precious few seconds she has wailing "Daddy!" and weeping, without giving any useful information.

Director Brendan Walsh, making his feature debut after working in TV, finds an impressive array of interesting and varied compositions from inside the car, using the icy blue patterns on the widows as light sources.

It's a technically well-made movie, to be sure, but it leaves many logical questions unanswered, such as... ahem... ongoing bathroom needs, as well as a tin of chocolates that is brought up early on as something significant, and is then forgotten.

Moreover, it can't find, or perhaps has no time to find in 89 minutes, much balance or history in the relationship.

It feels more like a divorce story than a suspense story. It's hard to feel much sympathy for the couple, especially with dialogue like "what is your problem?" and "what do you want me to say?"

It also contains perhaps more nerve-rattling baby cry sounds than any movie since Eraserhead.

Ultimately, it's less of a nail-biter than it is dispiriting, and disappointingly weighted toward a male point of view. Perhaps this is one movie that might have benefitted from a woman's touch.

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