Dir: Kevin Bacon. US.2005. 87mins
An old psychiatric joke declares that 'neurotics build castles in thesky; psychotics live in them.' Loverboy focuses on a smart,creative, unusually intense woman whose natural, if somewhat alarminglypossessive, love for her young son careers into total obsession.
But while Loverboyboasts some stellar performances, it is unlikely that these can compensate forits tough subject matter, unsteady tone and a tacked on happy ending. Thefilm's potential in the marketplace do not look strong.
Actors Kevin Bacon and KyraSedgwick have never shied away from unsettling material, as their topnotch workin The Woodsman suggests. Here Bacon assumes the mantle of director (hissecond outing after 1996's Chasing Sleep, which also starred his wife and alsopremiered at Sundance) and producer, as well as taking on a small acting role.
Sedgwick is both actor andproducer, turning in one of her best performances in the lead role. Given thetalent and the basic plot, the film could have been a truly unsettlingpsychological drama. Unfortunately, it loses much of its potency due to scriptflaws and a tone that veers uneasily between comedy and emotional horror.
Based on Redel's novel ofthe same title, the film concerns Emily Stoll (Sedgwick), a strong,intelligent, highly motivated woman whose parents (a sleazy-looking and actingBacon and Tomei) were so enamoured of one another that they had no time fortheir only child (played in flashback by Bacon and Sedgwick's real-lifedaughter, Sosie). So all-consuming was their love that they eventuallycommitted suicide together, leaving young Emily an orphan.
As an adult, Emilyrelentlessly pursues her own over-riding passion: to have a baby and devote allof her energies to the child. A one-night stand produces Paul (Kay, delightful,as well as completely believable), whom she showers with pet names, including'loverboy".
Emily is a wonderful motherin many ways: attentive, fun-loving, adventurous. But there is another side tothe coin. Determined to keep Paul for herself, she refuses to let him attendschool, interact with other children or even talk to 'outsiders". At aboutthe age of six, naturally curious about life beyond his mother's protectiveembrace, Paul tries to spread his wings. When she resists, so does he. Seeingher carefully laid plans unravelling, Emily becomes increasingly unhinged.
Sedgwick and Kay could notbe better and have a totally believable chemistry and rapport with one another.While the disturbingly dark nature of the subject matter might keep someviewers away, the film's real problem has nothing to do with the chilling storyor its psychological undercurrents. Instead, it has to do with dubious plotdevelopments and the film's misguided attempt to inject quirky comedy into thestory.
The audience can accept thatEmily is financially secure and does not need to work, but her abrupt handlingof people, especially a neighbour, would surely set off some alarm bells.
Several ill-advised stabs athumour also jar the feature early on. Emily's parents are presented asgrotesque swinger types with bad fashion sense, while an adult Emily isappalled to find her estate agent breast-feeding Paul.
Theoretically it should bepossible to play both the psychological horror and black comedy cards, but towhat end' In any event, this film's attempt to combine them fails miserably.
Still, Bacon does acommendable job as director and, unsurprisingly, proves himself excellent withactors. But the upbeat epilogue detracts from what should have been a blunt andshocking ending.
Prod cos: Millennium Films, Mixed Breed Films
Exec prods: Andrew Rosen, GeraldBarad, Andrew Lang, Danny Dimbort, Trevor Short, John Thompson
Prods: Daniel Bigel, MichaelMailer, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and Avi Lerner
Scr: Hannah Shakespeare, based onVictoria Redel's novel Loverboy
Cine: Nancy Schreiber
Pro des: Chris Shriver
Ed: David Ray
Music: Michael Bacon
Main cast: Kyra Sedgwick, DominicScott Kay, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon, Campbell Scott, Matt Dillon