A drama-heavy weekend at SA cinemas: Movies releasing today

It's a big week for drama and relationships at South African cinemas, with 9 new movies opening locally - and most of them of the serious, reality-based type. These include multi-award winning, education-against-the-odds tale, The First Grader (55% Fresh on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes); little known dolphin rescue adventure Beneath the Blue; and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, a Chinese-American novel adaptation centred on female friendship that transcends centuries (19% Fresh).

My Top 3 picks of the weekend though are as follows:

1) Abduction
Twilight's wolf boy Taylor Lautner graduates to leading man status with this action thriller. Lautner plays a teen who realises that his parents aren't his own when he finds photos of his younger self on a missing persons website. He's then goes on the run with his pretty neighbour (Lily Collins), when government agents start chasing him. Alfred Molina, Jason Isaacs, Maria Bello and Sigourney Weaver provide veteran acting support.

At the time of writing this post, Abduction was a rock-bottom 0% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. In other words, not a single critic gave the film a positive review. Evidently the movie has been made purely for Lautner fans to perve over their favourite star - with endless, tediously long shots of his face and abs. With its wooden lead and appalling dialogue, the film is apparently so bad it's funny. A definite Razzie contender for 2011.

2) One Day
If you like your romance more poignant than goofy, there's this drama from the director of award-winning An Education (my review). Based on the novel of the same name, One Day centres on 2 very different people (played by Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess) who meet at their college graduation, and over the course of 20 years see their friendship weather assorted triumphs and failures as their feelings for each other evolve.

One Day is 37% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The film has been called admirably ambitious in its attempt to weave wit and realism. However, it still compares poorly to its touching source material. Hampered by its episodic stricture and predictability, the film stays featherlight, emotionally disconnected and unsatisfying.

3) Trust
Sure it sounds like just another made-for-TV movie, paranoid about interactions over the Internet, but there's some serious talent involved in this drama. Clive Owen and Catherine Keener star as the parents of a 14 year old girl (Liana Liberato) whose initially innocent online romance turns out to be with a 40 year old sexual predator. This proceeds to tear apart the once happy family.

Trust is 78% Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. This cautionary tale has been praised for its performances, but critics seem to be divided over whether the film is hammy, amateurish and obvious, or a powerfully moving and intelligent examination of a very uncomfortable contemporary issue.


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