by Jef Burnham
Available August 30, 2011 on Blu-ray and DVD from IFC Midnight and MPI Home Video.
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Adrien Brody stars in this wilderness survival thriller about a man who finds himself trapped in the wreckage of a car at the bottom of a ravine in a dense mountain forest, surrounded by the corpses of the other passengers. He awakens after the accident with no memory of who he is or what events led to his predicament. But if he is to survive, he must not only defend himself against the elements, but cope with extensive injuries and the resultant deteriorating mental and physical health. Further complicating matters, he discovers that he may have been involved in a deadly bank robbery, meaning his rescue could spell only further imprisonment.
Wrecked’s success is derived, in no small part, from its simplicity. As Brody’s character awakens with total amnesia, the audience is in the same position as he (information-wise) at the outset. We see the entire situation through his eyes and, as a result, are every bit as lost as he for definitive answers. This allows us to further identify with his character who, due to his amnesia total isolation throughout, we learn almost nothing about by the film’s conclusion. And with no other characters to speak of, Brody is left to carry the film on his own, virtually without dialogue. Most impressive about this is Brody’s naturalistic portrayal of the character as he gradually loses his mind as prompted by isolation, malnutrition, infection, and the sporadic return of his memories. That the film is still so easily accessible and so incredibly suspenseful despite these limitations is really a testament to Brody’s immense talent as a performer.
Of course, one can hardly speak to the success of Wrecked without mentioning director Michael Greenspan and screenwriter Christopher Dodd. Having previously collaborated on two short films together, Wrecked marks the first feature film outing for both men. And this is one hell of a debut. The concept is simple, but simplicity such as this demands exactness. The atmosphere and pacing of the film are precise and unwavering, and Dodd’s script takes the film’s already necessarily minimal dialogue to the extreme, further immersing the audience in the man’s forced isolation.
The high-definition transfer of Wrecked on the Blu-ray release enhances the solid visuals with a stunning presentation of the beautiful, yet unforgiving terrain of the forests of British Columbia where the film was shot. The release includes a series of making-of featurettes and a theatrical trailer by way of special features.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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