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Turn the River (DVD Review)

22 Jun, 2008 By: Pete Croatto

Turn the River

Prebook 6/24/08; Street 7/22/08
Universal/Screen Media
Box Office $0.005 million
$24.98 DVD, ‘R' for language.
Stars Famke Janssen, Rip Torn, Matt Ross, Lois Smith, Marin Hinkle, Jaymie Dornan, Terry Kinney.

Janssen (of Rounders and the “X-Men” series) stars as a pool hustler desperate to start a new life in this understated, sometimes moving drama by Whit Stillman regular Chris Eigeman (Metropolitan, Barcelona), making his directing and writing debut.

Kailey (Janssen) needs to scrape together $60,000 to take herself and her estranged preteen son, Gully (Dornan of The Notorious Bettie Page), out of New York City and into Canada. Both are stuck in undesirable situations. Forbidden to see his mother, Gully is tormented by his tyrannical father (Ross of American Psycho), who in turn is pushed around by his domineering, dogmatic mother (Smith of P.S.). For Kailey, a life of living from game to game and sleeping on pool tables must be getting old.

Eigeman effectively lets locale and acting inform us on the layer of loserdom stifling Kailey and the civilized torture Gully endures, but he doesn't provide the audience with enough reasons as to why Kailey needs to leave right now, or how she and Gully were able to reconnect. Janssen's casting is also a detriment: She gives a steady performance, but the former model doesn't look worn-out enough to play such a hard-luck role.

Fans of moody, character-driven dramas such as Before the Devil Knows You're Dead or The Lookout will like Turn the River, if they can overlook the aforementioned flaws. DVD extras include a behind the scenes feature and commentary from Eigeman.

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