Reviews - Specialty Releases


Film Review: Not Today

Vitally important theme unstrung by shaky direction, writing and acting and a major flaw in subtitling.

April 11, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1375428-Not_Today_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Happy-go-lucky party animal Caden Welles (Cody Longo) gets smacked upside the head with reality when he and his crew go to Hyderabad, India, seeking fun. He encounters a desperately poor father and daughter, Kiran (Walid Amini) and Annika (Persis Karen), of the Dalit or “untouchable” caste, whose pleas for help he rejects. Conscience-ridden, he seeks them out again, only to discover that Kiran has sold Annika into child slavery. Suddenly, chasing booze and sex fades in importance as he goes on rescue alert.

Human trafficking is, of course, one of the modern world’s greatest tragedies and horrors, with some 27 million souls caught up in it, and any film exposing it must be commended. However, while there is no doubting the intentions of the makers of Not Today, the result, awkward and often ineptly acted, is far less laudable.

Writer-director Jon Van Dyke has a tin ear for dialogue, and his film is not helped by winsome, distracting subtitles which he splashes across the screen rather than in their usual position at the bottom of the frame. Far from being helpfully innovative, with different fonts signifying the words of different characters and even arrows pointing when a character says, “We’ll sleep here,” they have the unwanted effect of trivializing the story, adding an always disconcerting touch of whimsical precocity which must have been the last thing Van Dyke wanted.

“This is so jacked up!” wails Caden at one particularly dire moment, and while Longo gives it everything he’s got, he cannot overcome the abysmal script and an innate personal lack of depth that keeps you from fully identifying with his noble character transformation. (Although, really, who in the world could deliver a line like “There is something to that saying, ‘I once was lost and now I’m found”?) Little Karen is, of course, meant to break your heart, but her forced, untrained line readings—more recitations, really—also keep you at arm’s length.

I confess to feeling guilty myself over this pan of so much worthy intention in the service of an important cause. However, just the fact that it ends with a variety of random people facing the screen and beseeching us to do something about this problem unfortunately suggests both a PSA and the inescapable fact that Van Dyke should have just made a straight documentary to get the word out properly.


Film Review: Not Today

Vitally important theme unstrung by shaky direction, writing and acting and a major flaw in subtitling.

April 11, 2013

-By David Noh


filmjournal/photos/stylus/1375428-Not_Today_Md.jpg

For movie details, please click here.

Happy-go-lucky party animal Caden Welles (Cody Longo) gets smacked upside the head with reality when he and his crew go to Hyderabad, India, seeking fun. He encounters a desperately poor father and daughter, Kiran (Walid Amini) and Annika (Persis Karen), of the Dalit or “untouchable” caste, whose pleas for help he rejects. Conscience-ridden, he seeks them out again, only to discover that Kiran has sold Annika into child slavery. Suddenly, chasing booze and sex fades in importance as he goes on rescue alert.

Human trafficking is, of course, one of the modern world’s greatest tragedies and horrors, with some 27 million souls caught up in it, and any film exposing it must be commended. However, while there is no doubting the intentions of the makers of Not Today, the result, awkward and often ineptly acted, is far less laudable.

Writer-director Jon Van Dyke has a tin ear for dialogue, and his film is not helped by winsome, distracting subtitles which he splashes across the screen rather than in their usual position at the bottom of the frame. Far from being helpfully innovative, with different fonts signifying the words of different characters and even arrows pointing when a character says, “We’ll sleep here,” they have the unwanted effect of trivializing the story, adding an always disconcerting touch of whimsical precocity which must have been the last thing Van Dyke wanted.

“This is so jacked up!” wails Caden at one particularly dire moment, and while Longo gives it everything he’s got, he cannot overcome the abysmal script and an innate personal lack of depth that keeps you from fully identifying with his noble character transformation. (Although, really, who in the world could deliver a line like “There is something to that saying, ‘I once was lost and now I’m found”?) Little Karen is, of course, meant to break your heart, but her forced, untrained line readings—more recitations, really—also keep you at arm’s length.

I confess to feeling guilty myself over this pan of so much worthy intention in the service of an important cause. However, just the fact that it ends with a variety of random people facing the screen and beseeching us to do something about this problem unfortunately suggests both a PSA and the inescapable fact that Van Dyke should have just made a straight documentary to get the word out properly.
Post a Comment
Asterisk (*) is a required field.
* Author: 
Rate This Article: (1=Bad, 5=Perfect)

*Comment:
 

More Specialty Releases

Momo
Film Review: Letter to Momo

Literally beset by goblins, this strained animated effort should have concentrated on the human elements of its story rather than the supernatural. More »

A Master Builder
Film Review: A Master Builder

A personal project which should have stayed personal, this turgid yet flat Ibsen adaptation is third-time unlucky for Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory. More »

Fanny
Film Review: Fanny

"Classic" is a word all too casually bandied about, but for Daniel Auteuil's screen adaptation of this beloved French trilogy it is completely apropos. More »

Alive Inside
Film Review: Alive Inside

Incredibly moving and powerful documentary about combatting Alzheimer's with music. Without the use of a single CGI effect, you see literal miracles happening here. More »

ADVERTISEMENT



REVIEWS

Magic in the Moonlight
Film Review: Magic in the Moonlight

Slight Woody Allen period romance is enlivened by appealing leads Colin Firth and Emma Stone. More »

Sex Tape review
Film Review: Sex Tape

Couple's homemade porn circulates on the web in an R-rated comedy that wastes the talents of its stars. More »

Player for the Film Journal International website.


ADVERTISEMENT



INDUSTRY GUIDES

» Blue Sheets
FJI's guide to upcoming movie releases, including films in production and development. Check back weekly for the latest additions.

» Distribution Guide
» Equipment Guide
» Exhibition Guide

ORDER A PRINT SUBSCRIPTION

Film Journal International

Subscribe to the monthly print edition of Film Journal International and get the full visual impact of this valuable resource for the cinema business.

» Click Here

SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

Learn how to promote your company at the Film Expo Group events: ShowEast, CineEurope, and CineAsia.

» Click Here