I’ll be the first to say that whatever the story, there is someone out there that will appreciate it and the work that went into making it. However, while I appreciate the collective talents and credits of this cast and crew, I can’t endorse this film. There’s so much that could be said or shown in an hour and a half long movie, and You Should Have Left is sort of stuck not really doing either in a satisfying way. It has the idea, but there’s no real fun or dread involved to make this worth renting around vacation time.
Theo (Kevin Bacon) is a retired banker struggling with dreams and insecurities as his much younger wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) works in film. The production crew painfully assumes he is her father. To add to problems, any that recognize him know him as a man whose first marriage ended in a questionable death. Hoping for a quick reprieve, they take their daughter to an isolated home in Wales where lights flicker and there’s strange hidden rooms. The premise is based on a book by Daniel Kehlmann of the same name and perhaps readers will gain more from watching the adaptation than an illiterate like me. Or maybe not. As I said, I didn’t really find anything to latch onto in this film.
There’s a great deal of time devoted to characters walking around the way we’re used to seeing in horror films. There’s many disturbing dreams. One room appears larger on the outside than the inside. The locals in the village give Theo odd looks and warnings, but after the reactions people give him overseas, he’s quick to ignore them. What’s one more dirty look? He’s more focused on meditating and writing in his journal. He’s all but given up on trying to make a human connection with anyone but his family.
Personally, I would’ve cared for his character a lot more if we could see him try to be social. Anti-social personalities can work as Jack Torrance showed us long ago, but here, I think the horror elements should’ve been taken out so we could see a drama about a man agonizing. We can guess what’s going to happen from far off to the point that I’d even consider this being a good premise for a play. In its current medium, it’s rather bare bones.
While the end result is muddled, I do have to give credit for what it’s trying to do. The house is a unique mix of blackened bricks and glass windows that allow many views inside and out, though not with much personality and it’s Theo’s life we should be looking into as well. He’s not well-liked, his relationship feels like it’s on borrowed time, and there’s an uncomfortable sense that the family is going through the motions that often lead to division. But as we go through the motions, it becomes tiresome.
Maybe I’ll come back to this film in a few years and appreciate it more. As human beings, our perspectives often change based on what life throws at us. For now, however, I’d say it’s really far down on the list of movies one could be watching.
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