Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Marc Evans promised so much with the excellent thriller My Little Eye, shining a spotlight on voyeurism with its edgy camerawork and wry script. Like biting into a slab of tasty looking wedding cake, only to discover it is full of nasty synthetic cream, Trauma is a triumph of style over content.

It all starts so well. Colin Firth is superb as the traumatised Ben who wakes from a coma following a car accident in which his wife died. He is confused and on edge and his position is worsened by national grief for a murdered pop star and the implication that he may have been involved in some way.

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He moves out of the marital home to a recently converted hospital, where he tries to piece his life back together. So far, so spooky. Then it all goes horribly wrong. Mena Suvari - hopelessly miscast - turns up as his Reiki-practising, crystal-loving, arachnophobic neighbour, Charlotte. Her introduction as the sole American has shades of the bygone days of Tales Of The Unexpected, when casting directors always hired a Yank to ensure they could sell it to the US market. Surely, we should all be over this kind of ridiculous posturing by now?

How lucky for Charlotte that Ben, in addition to being something of an artist, was once an entymologist (that's a bug studier to you and I) and, in fact, still keeps a huge - very disturbing - ant farm in his apartment. He says he'll help her overcome her fear of spiders, while she, in turn seems keen to fix his aura - or something. Deeply influenced by Japanese horror movies, like Ring, Evans and writer Richard Smith seem determined to throw everything at this movie. So we are treated to broken glass, ants running free, televisions which transmit nothing but hiss, spooky psychiatrists, mediums and - perhaps most bizarrely - a hundredweight of shoes, to little or no purpose.

Firth puts in a sterling performance in the central role - and almost tempted me to give the film an extra star - but he can't make something out of a plot that isn't there. The film falls down the same potholes that Gothika did earlier in the year. Someone should remind filmmakers that, as Mena Suvari so ably shows, looking good is not enough. Also, the brief appearance of the microphone boom in one scene is just sloppy in these days of digital editing.

Trauma is due for general release in the UK next month and one can't help but suspect that the only reason for its inclusion in this year's Festival is the presence of former EIFF artistic director Lizzie Francke as one of the producers.

Why, Lizzie, why?

Reviewed on: 20 Aug 2004
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Trauma packshot
A man traumatised by the death of his wife becomes implicated in the death of a pop star.
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Read more Trauma reviews:

Keith Hennessey Brown **1/2
David Haviland *

Director: Marc Evans

Writer: Richard Smith

Starring: Colin Firth, Mena Suvari, Naomie Harris, Dorothy Duffy, Cornelius Booth, Dermot Murnaghan, Jamie Owen, Kirsty Young, Jamie Cameron, Justin Edwards, Nicola Cunningham, Paul Rattigan, Brenda Fricker

Year: 2004

Runtime: 94 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


EIFF 2004

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