When I told a colleague that I had to get off the phone in order to finish a review of the Premonition DVD, the question came up, “Why are you reviewing that film?” “Because I like Sandra Bullock.” “No you don’t! You told me you didn’t like her.” My reply was, “I have always liked her. It is unthinkable that I would ever say what you are attributing to me. It is simply not true.” My love for her may not run as deep as that for Lindsay Lohan, but it is sincere and consistent.
And indeed I’ve been a fan of Bullock’s since Speed, like everyone else. Her spunkiness on the screen, where she more or less supplanted Meg Ryan in the kookiness wars, was not matched by business savvy off screen, evinced in her appearing in the sequel. Earlier, though, she was dignified in the otherwise girly role as the sidekick cop in Demolition Man, and powerful and underrated in the now ignored Wrestling Ernest Hemingway . My love I was especially taken with her in While You Were Sleeping, and subsequently Bullock has always excelled at lonely loners and oddball brainiacs, such as in The Net, which I also enjoyed. The kooky thing got old after a while ( Hope Floats, Forces of Nature), but one residue of them is that you almost always knew what a Sandra Bullock movie was going to be like. She was the author of a brand.
And as one must be, also a producer of her own movies, while still maintaining the kookiness franchise in the Congeniality movies. But, inevitably as it does to all actresses, maturity came to claim her. In recent years she was excellent in Crash, and better as Harper Lee in Infamous than Catherine Keener was in Capote. Earlier this year she had another serious role in Premonition, as a woman who finds her self in a time shift, a sort of Groundhog Day times two in which every other day she lives through a day in the future, after her husband has been killed in a car crash and other haphazard injuries have been inflicted on her kids and herself.
Though I respect what Bullock wants to do as she gets older (she is only 42, but that is something like 60 in Actress Years), I generally don’t relish seeing her in the serious stuff. The film ended up making almost $50 million dollars but these days that translate into a “disappointment,” and in any case, the trailers were not so hot, more confusing than intriguing. The Forgotten had enticing trailers, for example, but was a crappy movie; here, the opposite dynamic was in play. Premonition is an OK movie, not quite my thing, but Bullock is good in it, and it is movies like these, in which stars work so hard only to be more or less ignored, that must give them pause, make them stop and wonder why the hell they are doing this in the first place.
Bullock plays Linda Quinn Hanson, the female half of a perfect household. But one day she wakes up and time has shifted forward a week, after her husband, Jim (Julian McMahon), has died in a tragic highway accident right out of the Final Destination movies (in fact, Premonition reminds me of a film from the 1990s with a then-current flavor of the week starlet as a character who keeps waking up in a different world alternately with or without her boyfriend. I’ve been unable to remember the actress, the title, the plot, or the year, but I know it was out there). Of course, people think she is crazy, and she keeps picking up misleading hints as to her husband’s secret life (possibly with co-worker Amber Valletta). The script, credited to Bill Kelly, who likes time warp movies (he also wrote Blast from the Past and the forthcoming Enchanted), walks a delicate line between what Linda learns and what she really learns, but the film does demand that you mentally keep an accounting book going on the whole time. The cause of this disruption in time is never explained, just as it is also not explained in Me Myself I, one of numerous time warp movies from the 1990s that also include Sliding Doors and the movie I can’t remember.
For this reason, Premonition is probably idea for the home market, where you can pause, review, discuss amongst yourselves, and basically hash out the plot. What’s interesting about the film is how Linda’s moods and attitudes change with each new day, at one point deciding that Jim deserves to die and all she has to do is nothing. If the film has a major flaw, besides being confusing, it is humorlessness, although there is a scene of high comedy where Jim’s coffin falls and breaks and his head goes rolling down the street.
As is to be expected from a major release from a big company, Premonition comes in a fine widescreen transfer (2.40 enhanced), with excellent Dolby Digital 5.1 sound in English and French, with English, French, and Spanish. The main supplement is the rather quite audio commentary with director Mennan Yapo ( Lautlos) and with Bullock herself, where the emphasis is on character motivation and shooting process.
There are also five deleted scenes with optional director’s commentary, most of the scenes excised for purposes of pacing (still not successful since Premonition still has a glacial pace), and an alternate ending, which turns out to be no ending at all. Following this, there are two making ofs, “Glimpses of the Future: Making Premonition,” about 15 minutes, and mostly boilerplate promotional material, and the slightly shorter “Bringing Order to Chaos,” which helpfully puts the days of the film in chronological order. This is followed by the two part “Real Premonitions,” about 30 minutes, and three minutes of gag reel material, mostly having to do with dead birds or pranks on the actors (which also show Bullock to be a fun person to have on the set). Finally there are trailers for Across the Universe (seemingly a cross between Hair and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band), The Messengers, and Ghost Rider. I wish that they had also included her appearance on The Daily Show where she came across, as always, as a game girl who likes to have fun, and where she was quite forthright about getting lost in the labyrinth of the plot.
Premonition, in widescreen, full frame and Blu-Ray formats, comes in a keep case. The widescreen edition streeted on Tuesday, July 17th, and retailed for $28.95.
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