Last year, in August, I posted a similar post – Unpopular Opinion Tag (Films), where I talked about three movies that people generally love, but I hated. Now, it is time to do a “reversal” post. Here, I will be talking about three movies that people or critics do not like much, but I actually thought there was merit in them or things to love. I am choosing to write about Premonition (2007), Sleeping with the Enemy (1991) and Joseph: King of Dreams (2000). Be warned, there may be some spoilers ahead.
I. Premonition (2007)
IMDb score: 5.9; Rotten Tomatoes score: 8%.
In 2007, Mennan Yapo shot this film starring Sandra Bullock, and, in my opinion, it does not deserve to be so unknown or all the negative reviews. The film is actually fascinating. It relies on a twisted Groundhog Day/”Deja Vu” (2006) concept to tell the story of Linda (Bullock), a wife and a mother, who finds her world turned upside down when she wakes up one day to learn that her husband is dead and another day – to find out that he is still alive. The truth is that her week days do not follow the natural timeline, but are randomly emerging, and Linda has to find out how her new reality works exactly to possibly save her husband from a deadly car collision. The film is clever (in a way it is a brain-teaser), and it is very interesting to follow Linda on her journey. The film makes you want to pay attention to small details to find out how they may change the next day. The film may lack some fundamental logic and, definitely, plausibility, especially towards the end, but it is so atmospheric, many of its other faults could also be forgiven. It is atmospheric in a way every scene is filled with the feeling that something macabre or threatening is lurking in the background (some unseen force), meddling with the natural clock, and music and the involvement of children make the picture even eerier and more effective. Couple this with the exploration of the issues of sanity and grief, and a few nice jumps, and the result is strangely compelling. It may not be this great thriller, but it is good enough for repeated viewings and Bullock does a good enough job.
II. Sleeping with the Enemy (1991)
IMDb score: 6.2; Rotten Tomatoes score: 24%.
From the onset it is important to say that “Sleeping with the Enemy” is quite problematic. Implausibility, tacky representation of menace and predictability are some of the obvious problems. My argument is rather that the film did manage to do some things very right, and it is worthy of a night-in watch. Julia Roberts does play convincingly a victim of a domestic abuse, Laura, who longs for a better life, and, thus, devises a clever plan to escape her abusive husband. Other cast is as good and the script is well-written. Another good thing here is that, actually, the threat coming from Laura’s husband feels real enough and the film becomes scary in this sense. The husband is played by Patrick Bergin, and he becomes really a man to be frightened of, as he shows off unhealthy dosages of obsessive-compulsive disorder, psychopathy and paranoia. The culmination sequence and Laura’s disguised visit to her mother are particularly thrilling scenes to watch. There is a rumour that this film reached number one place in the rental charts back in the day, and there may be some sense in this.
III. Joseph: King of Dreams (2000)
IMDb score: 6.5; Rotten Tomatoes score: N/A.
Everyone says how this animation is not “The Prince of Egypt” (1998) (far from it), and there is surely some truth in it. It was, indeed, made on the back of the success of “The Prince of Egypt“. My point, rather, is that this straight-to-video animation has enough merit to be viewed apart from its more successful brother – as an entertaining and lesson-giving film in its own right. “Joseph: King of Dreams” tells its own fascinating biblical story of a boy who was destined to interpret correctly his own and other people’s dreams. It may have some mediocre songs, a naive hero and a comparatively thin plot, but it is, nevertheless, both moving and beautiful. Joseph is voiced by no other than Ben Affleck, and the animation slowly draws you in as it unveils Joseph’s early life on the farm, and his painful betrayal by his brothers (taking him to the heart of Egypt as a result). Visually, the things most to admire here are probably the dream sequences, sometimes inspired by van Gogh paintings. The animation may be uneven in parts, but it has a broad impact and reach – it tells an inspiration story of hope and forgiveness, and that is more than enough for any screen story to be memorable.