Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Film Review: The Loft (2014)

The Loft (Review)
United States/2014
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"Keep an open mind and you might like what you see in The Loft."

Five married men share a luxurious loft for their erotic excursions. Their dream situation, however, is shattered when a woman is found dead in their home away from home...

The Loft follows the five owners of the loft. Vincent Stevens (Karl Urban) is the leading douchebag of the group, being the architect who designed the building after all. Luke Seacord (Wentworth Miller) is Vincent's bashful best friend and a generally introverted fellow. Chris Vanowen (James Marsden) is a doctor who falls in love with his mistress. Marty Landry (Eric Stonestreet) is the fat funny guy douchebag – really, I think that's all we get from him. Philip Williams (Matthias Schoenaerts) is Chris' brother and a cocaine lover. Anyway, the film simultaneously tells three stories: the interrogation of the friends, the moment they found the body, and the events leading up to the mysterious death. The storytelling can be a bit muddled since it hops around between the three timelines, but you'll get the gist. It can also get a bit too twisted towards the end. I don't mean it's sick or demented, but it packs a few too many twists and turns for its own good.

I remember when The Loft originally released – it was and still is a critically panned film. Well, I didn't think it was that bad. In fact, I didn't think it was a bad film in general. The Loft isn't a film for everyone, especially those who believe we must love or root for every character ever created. No, that's not how it works. These guys are purposely obnoxious – that's who the characters are. If you can't get over that, you won't like it, so skip it. If there's any reason to criticize these characters, it would be their limited characteristics. Some are a bit more developed, but they are generally interchangeable, which is a bit disappointing. So, if you're going to hate the characters, don't hate them because they're sleazy, hate them because they're one-dimensional.

With that said, these guys are total douchebags, but the engaging mystery and the non-chronological storytelling kept me hooked. Yes, this was one of those films I was engaged from beginning to end. It's far from perfect (I just mentioned the weak characters, weren't you reading?), but it certainly kept my attention. Even when the twists became a bit silly and even far-fetched, I was genuinely interested. I suppose it was a combination of the engaging mystery, the moderate suspense, the style, and the great pacing. On the pacing, the film really uses momentum to its advantage. The buildup really aids in the pacing and suspense.All of this combined creates an engaging and entertaining experience.

The acting is a bit hit-or-miss, though. This is due to some of the performances and the writing. The dialogue seemed a bit stiff and unnatural — "Because we're friends." Karl Urban is mostly good, although the dialogue hits him a few times. I also liked James Marsden. Wentworth Miller, however, felt miscast in this. I mean, he seemed awkward, but for the wrong reasons. Otherwise, most of the acting is more than serviceable. The cinematography was great and the editing was nice. The film is very stylish. The music also matched the tone of the film, which is always a positive. The Loft is directed by Erik Van Looy and written by Bart de Pauw and Wesley Strick. Aside from some performance issues, I thought the direction was fine. The writing could have used some fine-tuning, though. It certainly could have used better dialogue. (Assuming the lines were read directly from the screenplay, which seems possible.)

Overall, The Loft is a good film. It's not perfect, it's not even great, but it is a good film. The mystery is engaging, the suspense is strong, and the pacing is splendid. On the other hand, the characters are one-dimensional and some of the performances suffer from the occasional bad line of dialogue. If you're the type to dismiss a film because you don't like the characters, you should steer clear. If you understand narratives can tell stories of despicable people and still be decent, you might find yourself with an engaging whodunit here. Keep an open mind and you might like what you see in The Loft.

Score: 6/10
Parental Guide: Violence and blood.

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