Note: On Wednesday morning, I awoke to discover this wonderful fact called 'my blog had disappeared.' Some of you may have noticed clicking on my link would send you to an empty page. Thankfully, this issue has been resolved (I'm still not actually sure how, but we'll call it a Kwanza miracle) and I have a lot of thoughts about it to share later in the week. Before that, let me urge every blogger reading this to back up your work. You never know when something like this can happen, and we all work far too hard to simply lose all our posts.
And now onto the main attraction!
Winter may be here, but that doesn’t mean the bug(gs) aren’t still watching movies! This month, my pal Zach (he of the one and only Lightning Bugg’s Lair) and I did a conveniently Watch Instant swap. Over at the Lair, Sir T.L. Bugg will be reviewing my pick, the gloriously pun-filled, Passions connected late ‘90s go-kart classic, Rumplestiltskin. Head his way for what I can’t not possibly believe will be a 5 bug review.
And now onto the main attraction!
In return, Zach pointed me towards some classier holiday fare: 2007’s While She Was Out, a MILF revenge flick starring (and executive produced by) Oscar winner Kim Basinger.
Quick Plot: Della is an upper middle class suburban housewife, miserably married to an abusive (and oddly puffy) Craig Sheffer. Her only happiness seems to come from mothering her perfectly blond twins. On Christmas Eve, Della heads to the mall for wrapping paper (I guess wealthier neighborhoods don’t have Rite Aides?) and has the nerve to write a mildly scolding note to a rude empty car that took up two spaces in the packed parking lot.
Big mistake. After shopping, Della returns to her spot and is ambushed by a punky quartet led by the smarmy Chucky (Lucas Haas, all grown up from The Lady In White). It’s not quite clear whether they’re on drugs or just assholes, but they prove their badassary immediately by executing the rent-a-cop with a double head shot.
A chase follows, ending in the woods of a developing real estate complex. Della is armed only with her truck’s handy toolbox, while the gang pursues with a loaded gun.
That’s pretty much the basics of While She Was Out. The film is sold as a woman-gets-vengeance tale, but it’s really more about the actual pursuit as Della--a timid woman who gets spooked even by the gentlest salespeople--rotates between her survivalist instincts and human guilt. Save for the film’s final beat, she never takes any pleasure in defending herself against her would-be assassins. She just wants to live to see her kids open their Nintendo Wii.
While She Was Out is dependent on two things: Basinger’s performance and the tension of the chases. While I’ve never been a huge fan of the former Mrs. Baldwin, she is quite wonderful as Della, selling the bored WASP act like the A-list star she sometimes is. While She Was Out was probably conceived as a character piece, something evident in early scenes meant to establish Della’s fragile state. As we watch her timidly ask a friend for a drink date or get scared off a biscotti when the Starbucks barista asks her to choose a flavor, the audience gets a very clear picture of what kind of person our soon-to-be protagonist is.
The other key to While She Was Out is first-time director Susan Montford’s ability to stage a good chase. It’s hit or miss. Though setting the majority of the action in development property provides plenty of neat visual twists, the repetition of watching Della hide behind trees or freeze in flashlight beams does grow tired. At a certain point, savvy viewers can make a pretty clear guess as to where our story ends up. I wish Montford gave us a few different types of teases.
After clowns, dolls, Carol of the Bells, clown-dolls and caterpillars, next on my list of Random Things That Freak Me Out are kids’ crayon drawings and high-voiced children singing choir music. The fact that While She Was Out’s opening credits featured both set a pretty wonderful (for me) tone for the film.
Though Haas has fun channeling his inner thug, there’s something just lacking in his gang. Maybe it’s their overly obvious “It’s a Small World” multi-ethnicity or general ineptness of their housewife catching, but the villains felt more like they needed detention in High School High than maximum security prison
Loyal Pilates practice will prepare you for all sorts of life survival
To keep your husband happy, comb your hair and clean up after your kids. Really woman, do you HAVE a vagina?
When in doubt, duck
Part of why I love these Bugg-sponsored swaps is because I thus far have gotten the chance to watch films I probably never ever never would have otherwise thought to queue. While She Was Out isn’t a new classic, but I enjoyed it far more than I ever would have expected. It’s a brisk and well-made little thriller that gives us an unusual and quite sympathetic heroine, someone we genuinely root for for the right reasons. It’s seasonal AND on Instant Watch, so if you’re looking for a tight and entertaining 86 minutes, I say go for it...you ungrateful little pig.