Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


THE INVASION (2007). Director: Oliver Hirschbiegel.

"My husband is not my husband!"

This is the fourth film version of Jack Finney's novel The Body Snatchers, famously filmed in the fifties as Invasion of the Body Snatchers (which remains the best version of the story). Washington D.C. psychiatrist Carol Bennell (Nicole Kidman) has patients who insist that their loved ones aren't really their loved ones, and there seems to be an epidemic of this sort of thing going on. A friend, Ben Driscoll (Daniel Craig of James Bond fame), learns that spores picked up by a space shuttle that crash landed are infecting people, turning them into emotionless drones that only resemble their former selves and have their memories. Before long Carol is on the run, desperate to save her little boy, Ollie (Jackson Bond), from her ex-husband (Jeremy Northam) and others who have been infected. [The presence of the child, as well as switching the sexes of the two main characters and eliminating the pods from the first two film versions, are the major changes to the story.] Although not a classic like the first film, this version is still disquieting and thought-provoking. An interesting aspect is that the point is made that there are some positive aspects to the invasion, such as a drop in hostility and greed, all caused by human emotions. [But there's also no joy or love.] Unfortunately, director Hirschbiegel seems too interested in providing action scenes and car chases that spoil the film's mood, and some sequences -- such as when a lone woman in a crowd reacts to a double-suicide, proving that she is still human -- aren't handled with the dramatic intensity they require. The entire cast gives good performances, however (Kidman has never looked better), including Veronica Cartwright, who appeared in the 70's remake, as a patient. This was excoriated by many critics but it isn't that bad.

Verdict: In any version this story is still unsettling. ***.

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