Here's my contribution to the blogathon. Thanks... or acknowledgement at least... to Jake Likes Movies at the Joblo forums for this recommendation
DIR: Greg Marcks
CAST: Patrick Swayze, Hilary Swank, Shawn Hatosy,
Rachel Leigh Cook, Colin Hanks, Henry Thomas
11:14 focuses on two interrelated car crashes, which apparently happen at the exact same instant, barely a mile apart, to people who not only know each other but are related, in Los Angeles. So already you can probably tell the credibility isn’t exactly high on writer/director Greg Marcks’ list of priorities. Sadly neither is a decent screenplay, or believable characters (or, indeed, characters), or performances of a higher standard than poor community theatre.
Like Magnolia and Short Cuts, 11:14 uses its central events to explore the lives of related sets of characters, each of whom have one storyline in which they dominate, while cameoing in the other stories. To say that this film falls short of its inspirations is to dramatically understate the case. Magnolia and Short Cuts are defined by their graceful editing; the way that the stories organically flow into one another, making you believe that these characters interrelating is just the natural way of things. 11:14, by contrast, feels contrived from the get go. In the first of the film’s five (mercifully) short segments Henry Thomas is involved in a car accident. Barbara Hershey drives by, and offers to help him. When the Police (in the form of Clark Gregg) arrive, Thomas runs… and ends up, by ridiculous, odds defying, coincidence at Hershey’s house (to tell you the other colossal contrivance in this sequence would be too big a spoiler).
It’s hard to explain why exactly the contrivances of the relationships don’t work in this film, as they do in Magnolia, but the fact that Marcks’ screenplay gives none of its many, many protagonists any real character surely doesn’t help matters. The dialogue is tin-eared. It’s not that he’s trying to be self-conciously cool, more that quite often characters just use one too many words. Hershey, early on, says to Henry Thomas that she can call the Police for him “I’ve got my new cellphone here”. It’s not a terrible line, but it just feels written, like she’s giving him just a little too much information. That’s a real pattern with the dialogue here, it’s just that little bit too written.
The characters don’t have time to become people (the film is, after all, barely 80 minutes long… small blessings), so we get types. That said, you do see performances where a great actor takes something that’s thin on the page and makes it real, makes it live. Not here. If anything the cast seem to be competing to see who can secure themselves the Worst Supporting Actor/Actress Razzie. It’s hardest to blame Rachael Leigh Cook, who is just completely miscast as a manipulative slut, playing several boyfriends off at the same time. Cook is just too cute, too perky, and her limited acting chops can’t overcome her butter wouldn’t melt look. Terrible in grander, more impressive ways are Colin Hanks and Shawn Hatosy, who surely must share the wooden spoon for worst achievement in line reading, each contributing several efforts that made me laugh out loud, while two time Oscar winner Hilary Swank utterly humiliates herself, playing a dumb as a brick convenience store clerk, as well as executive producing the film.
I knew 11:14 was going to be bad barely a minute in in, as it opened with a drawn out title sequence, with the credits going around a series of roads, crossing paths every now and then, all rendered in sub-playstation CGI, to Clint Mansell’s hilariously inappropriate upbeat score (which makes the film’s many chase scenes play more like a segment of the Benny Hill Show). I’m completely unsurprised that this film, produced in 2003, went unreleased in the UK for three years. Would that it had languished on a shelf for much, much longer.
Like many of the world’s stupider films, 11:14 seems entirely convinced of its own cleverness, catastrophically unaware that we’ve seen ALL of this hundreds of times before, usually done much better. Don’t waste your time on this car crash of a movie.