Starring Benicio del Toro, Justin Timberlake, Alicia Silverstone, Eric Bogosian, Ato Essandoh, Domenick Lombardozzi, Michael Pitt
Written & Directed by Grant Singer
This is probably the most exasperating—and deliberately so—suspense thriller of all times.Swathed in ambiguities and suffused with enough red herrings to fill a ponderous pond, Reptile is the sort of stylish mess that is not supposed to make any sense to anyone who tries to make sense of it.You are welcome to try, but trust me, no one in the film is to be trusted,least of all the director.
Yes, people will rave about its arresting ambience and guilt-ridden characters. But nothing really comes out of it. I sat in rapt attention through this reptilian puzzle. I still don’t know who the killer is!Like all murder mysteries this one too begins with a murder: the body of a ravishing realtor(Matilda Lutz) is found in an empty room of one of her potential homes for purchase.
It is a well-crafted murder sequence and my curiosity was piqued. But what follows is a supremely frustrating game of cat-and-mouse. Everyone talks in mysterious tangents. I didn’t hear a single line of straight talking like ordinary people saying, ‘Hello would you like a glass of water?’ It’s all about a river that runs so deep that no one wants to get to the bottom of it.
The one real character is the Detective Tom Nichols. Benicio del Toro is matchlessly vivid in a plot enamoured of haze. I would recommend the film for del Torro’s performance. But then again, does he really make the torture of watching characters slip through the cracks in the plot over and over again, bearable?
The characters seem to be insinuating a conspiracy much larger than just the murder of a woman who turns out to be extremely wealthy and whose death could benefit quite a few. This is a classic Agatha Christie murder-mystery situation converted into a bloodless game of cat-and-mouse with no hope of a redemptive closure.
The performances are tremulous and delicate. There are tormented friends,lovers and blood links of the murdered woman. But they all ACT suspicious to the extent that they look planned plants rather than organic plotting devices. Justin Timberlake plays the murdered woman’s boyfriend with such conceit he is almost a giveaway suspect.
Even Tom’s wife(Alicia Silverstone , behaving like a trapped cat in a house of rats) and Tom’s associates , including his boss who announces his illness before too long, are eventually suspects. We do know the murder has happened under mysterious circumstances. But there are too many motives attached to every suspect. In essence, Benicio del Toro plays a detective waiting to solve a case that doesn’t want to be solved.
Don’t waste your time watching this pretentious mindbender.