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The story follows Victor Van Allen (Ben Affleck), a wealthy husband who allows his wife to have affairs in order to avoid a divorce. However, when his lovers start to disappear and end up dead, he becomes the prime suspect in the cases.
is directed by Adrian Lyne, best known for his thrilling, psychologically twisting erotic films. The film adapted from the crime novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith stars ex-couple Ben Affleck and Ana De Armas. It was during the filming of this film that the two met and their brief relationship began. The film also marks the return of director Adrian after 20 years.
The two seem like the perfect combination of a crime thriller with an erotic tone – given that Ben couldn’t leave behind his performance as the creepy husband-turned-victim from Gone Girl, and Ana was recently seen as the… icon of sex in bond film. However, the two alone aren’t enough to save this film from something that went drastically wrong during pre and post-production.
The film begins with a simple family of Victor Van Allen (Ben Affleck) and Melinda (Ana De Armas), both taking care of their beloved daughter. However, as their day progresses, it becomes apparent that other than their daughter, the two have nothing else left to hold them together. The seemingly loveless marriage only shows sparks in awkward fashion as Vic lets her have extramarital affairs in the name of love as she teases him with a number of lovers, hoping it will evoke the lost passion between them.
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However, understanding the two characters comes at a stretch of the imagination at the expense of the audience. Ben often shows up with the same sullen expression throughout the runtime, he raises the level of creepiness quite well, however, it’s the script and editing that get him wrong in the second half of the film. Ana keeps things interesting with several nuances in her character and performance, but the creators didn’t give her enough to push the plot forward on her own.
The story mainly follows Vic, whose obsession with snails, which makes several appearances, also leaves no impact on any part of the plot or the ensuing deaths. At the start of the film, Ana has already lost one of her lovers whom Ben widely claims to have killed to scare his new lover and plays it off as a joke. Also after her disappearance, the list of lovers continues to grow, so does the body matter, which ends up making the audience paranoid enough to think, is the girl involved?
The script plays with the idea of Vic being sadistic, the ideal husband, victim of Melinda’s manipulation, or just plain psychopathic. But within three minutes it becomes apparent that her lovers are missing, the big reveal will leave you waiting for the declaration of misdirection, which never comes. The plot continues to prove its revelation for another hour and a half without consequence or underlying explanation.
Notably, the film has been on the shelves for over two years, originally slated for a 2020 release, the film was postponed due to the pandemic and the Disney-Fox takeover, making it an unusual release. for Disney because of its erotic genre – which could also explain the publishing mishaps.
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may have started with great intention, but the end product is not at its best. Ana De Armas does her best to keep moving forward, but it’s her character’s boring husband, Vic’s perspective that keeps things boring and snail-like.