When a woman discovers that she doesn’t really know the man she married, she takes steps to rectify the situation in her own way.
Eric Naylor’s The Divorce focuses upon married couple Elaine and Girard, and the sterile life they live in their 1960s-style home, complete with the tacky decorations. We get the feeling that the very pleasant Elaine has been unhappy for a long time, when she attempts to ask Girard what happened to him to create the silent, seething person he’s become. Elaine reminds Girard, a previously awarded math teacher, that he used to be so vital and active in all the things that concerned them, such as Proposition 109. And now Girard can barely make an utterance to his wife as he sits at their long dinner table, interacting with the automated voice on his laptop.
Miserable, Elaine thinks aloud to herself about divorce, and perhaps something more, as she looks long and hard at Girard, knife in hand, hovering over a loaf of bread at the table. And then it happens… just as Elaine’s about to put her words into action and ask Girard for a divorce, they hear a disturbing sound coming from the basement. At that point, domestic problems are the least of Elaine’s worries.
If this sounds like an interesting plot, you’re on the right track. There’s no doubt that Naylor has written a most intriguing and suspenseful screenplay. Unfortunately, great writing doesn’t guarantee a strong movie, even when the principal actress, Tiffany Browne-Tavarez, portrays a most amiable and believable disillusioned wife.
In my opinion, there are several factors that pull The Divorce down. These include over-acted portrayals by all of the remaining actors in the film, and too many dark interior shots (perhaps due to a camera that doesn’t handle low light very well), and the film’s twenty-minute duration that feels like forty-minutes. All of that aside, what’s most trying for me is the blatant attempt to mimic David Lynch’s style of filmmaking. This can be seen in overly long reaction shots followed by the inevitable delays in dialogue, and that well known Lynchian signature, the disembodied, all knowing eye-shot.
I attribute all weaknesses in The Divorce strictly to inexperience, and do believe that Naylor’s next movie will show growth. I’m almost certain of this because Naylor’s writing/plot idea is so simple, intelligent and powerful. Furthermore, when filmmakers have great writing abilities in their favor, they should never fear creating their own signature style. In the meantime, I’ll await Eric Naylor’s next project, which will hopefully arrive on the big screen sooner rather than later.
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