A review of “October Gale,” a nonsensical thriller that wastes Clarkson’s many talents. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
It’s always a pleasure to gaze at Patricia Clarkson in close-up; this velvet-voiced actress has long mesmerized on screen, barely needing a script to tell a story. The best moments in Ruba Nadda’s thriller “October Gale” are the wordless ones early on, in which we watch Clarkson, as a new widow, show us what it’s like to be alone in a lakeside cabin made for two, to wake up looking for someone who isn’t there, to tie up the boat and light the fire and turn on the electricity in a way that tells us that somebody else — somebody beloved — once did these chores.
And then, alas, the plot kicks in; fate, unkindly, is not going to let us just watch Clarkson alone with her thoughts for an hour and a half. (For the record, I would watch that movie, happily.) Instead, “October Gale” is a rather silly, unbelievable thriller.
Clarkson’s character, Helen, follows a trail of blood in her cabin and finds a strange young man named Will (Scott Speedman) there, bleeding. She stitches him up (Helen’s a doctor, as well as a woman with uncanny control of her nerves) remarkably calmly, and learns that he’s hiding from a couple of men who want to kill him. Cellphones malfunction, storms rage (though, weirdly, suddenly everything looks bone-dry in the climactic scene), guns are brandished, and nothing Helen does, despite Clarkson’s best efforts, makes any sense.
Movie Review ★★
‘October Gale,’ with Patricia Clarkson, Scott Speedman, Tim Roth. Written and directed by Ruba Nadda. 91 minutes. Not rated; for mature audiences. Sundance (21+).
Writer/director Nadda (who worked with Clarkson before, to much better effect, in the quiet, meditative 2008 drama “Cairo Time”) doesn’t seem to have enough plot here to stretch out to 90 minutes. There’s what amounts to a music-video sequence early on — Clarkson drifts attractively on a boat while a song plays — and it takes forever before we learn Will’s story. (And then we don’t buy it, for a minute.) Poor Helen; you wish her a better fate (and, perhaps, better locks on her cabin doors), and Clarkson a better movie.
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