The Cry of the Owl Jamie Thraves

The Cry of the Owl Jamie Thraves
Based on the Patricia Highsmith novel of the same name, this rendition of Cry of the Owl is the second or, arguably, third, if you count similarities and overt references, adaptation of the pulpy noir novel. It's relatively faithful, moving Robert Forrester (Paddy Considine) to a small Pennsylvania town from New York after a messy divorce with Nickie (Caroline Dhavernas), only to learn that geography can't help you run from yourself. And what's interesting about this particular stab at the unsentimental psychological thriller is its handling of image projection and social awkwardness, letting scenes linger after failed jokes, inappropriate sexual advances and weird comments about death. Robert's quest for happiness and peace takes him inevitably into the darkness ― a literal metaphor in the film made by streetlights at a crossroads ― heading through the woods to peep through the windows of a secluded house at Jenny Thierolf (Julia Stiles), a woman contentedly performing domestic duties like cooking and cleaning. The peculiarity here is that when she discovers him watching her, she doesn't scream and call the police, rather, she hesitates, engages in conversation and invites him in for coffee, telling him a story about her dead brother and a man representing death. So wrapped up in his identity and the ideal she represents, Robert barely notices her erratic behaviour, even when she shows up outside of his office the next day, and everywhere else he goes, to chat. This is a theme throughout the film: masked people letting their secrets and pain out through awkward, veiled commentary. Nickie jokes with Robert about getting back together when not insulting him and making up excuses to see him, and his best friend Jack (Gord Rand) makes repeated latent homosexual advances despite being married. But everyone is so self-involved, and Robert so beyond hope, trapped in a moral cycle of bad decisions and fatalistic trappings, that only suffering and human monstrosity are possibilities. Thraves does a great job of getting this point across, even if the film suffers some strange pacing and Paddy Considine was terribly miscast. Unfortunately, no supplements are included with the DVD. (E1)