Dot the I movie review, Matthew Parkhill, Gael Garcia Bernal. Review by Rob Blackwelder ©SPLICEDwire
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"Dot the I"
2 stars
92 minutes | Rated: R
LIMITED: Friday, March 25, 2005
Written & directed by Matthew Parkhill

Starring Gael Garcia Bernal, Natalia Verbeke, James D'Arcy, Charlie Cox, Tom Hardy

  • Gael Garcia Bernal
  • James D'Arcy
  • Tom Hardy

  •  LINKS for this film
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    Increasingly nonsensical manipulations doom hypnotic romantic drama "Dot the I" to being a deftly made blunder

    By Rob Blackwelder

    "Dot the I" begins with a beautiful, willful but vulnerable Spanish immigrant to London accepting the proposal of her sweet, adoring and doting English boyfriend -- then being knocked for a loop by a kiss from a stranger at her bachelorette party.

    This kiss has lyrical cinematic brilliance as it lingers -- the outside world shut out for a spellbinding moment -- until a sudden sound snaps the startled smoochers back to reality. It's a kiss that changes the lives of Carmen (Natalia Verbeke) and Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal), himself an immigrant from Brazil who represents a passion lacking from the girl's relationship with Barnaby (James D'Arcy). But the relationship with her fiancé makes her feel safe in the wake a violently abusive past that sneaks up on her psyche from time to time.

    The emotional complications of this love triangle are engrossing and deeply heartfelt, and Carmen's character is vividly drawn, with Verbeke infusing her with a style that makes army pants seem incredibly sexy and an irresistible spirit of newfound empowerment, albeit tinged with stormy melancholy of growing inner turmoil. Writer-director Matthew Parkhill creatively mixes film and low-end digital video (impoverished aspiring-filmmaker Kit has a habit of keeping a video diary) to provide a first-person immediacy that is at once sweetly romantic and a little creepy. And even though the magic between Verbeke ("The Other Side of the Bed") and Bernal ("Bad Education") is slightly undermined by both actors' awkwardness with English, their attraction is downright addicting.

    But Parkhill thinks himself a little too clever at times (a reference to "The Graduate" is painfully telegraphed), and that fault turns out to be a warning sign for the fact that when "Dot the I" takes a wild and ambitious left turn, the film begins to fall apart, weakened by a thousand small but collectively insurmountable plot holes.

    Parkhill manages to undermine sympathy for every character -- which may be deliberate, but if so it's a bungled effort creating an air of directorial conceit and contempt. He also undermines the increasingly complex story by revealing that it's based entirely on one character inexplicably planning for coincidences and repeatedly guessing exactly how the others will behave. In the last act, "Dot the I" reaches a climax so specious and elaborate that in order for it to fly, two characters seem to chuck their principles entirely and people not connected in any way with the love triangle have to behave exactly as predicted months in advance.

    While more conventional moviegoers may react negatively to being blindsided by the movie's unexpected turns of events, Parkhill deserves admiration for having the audacity to take such a risk. If executed in a way that would stand up to the scrutiny of common sense (and didn't rely on under-developing the male leads in the first two acts), these risks might have translated into rich rewards for those who prefer films that defy foredrawn conclusions. But while Parkhill's filmmaking remains almost hypnotic throughout, the increasingly nonsensical manipulations doom "Dot the I" to being a deftly made blunder.

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