A strong upscale English-centric revenge thriller with a terrific
performance by Gillian Anderson.
This 2006 film was, like quite a few of Gillian
Anderson’s post X-FILES projects, a British production (and no surprise,
as she lives in London). The writer-director was Dan Reed, of the
acclaimed British underworld drama SHOOTERS (2001). As for STRAIGHTHEADS,
it received some decent reviews but not much else, going straight to DVD
in the U.S. under the title CLOSURE.
Rich bitch Alice is dating the much younger Adam, who
installs her home security system…when he’s not masturbating to security
camera footage of Alice undressing! Leaving a party one night, they get
into a minor scuffle with some backwoods hunters that turns major when
Alice’s car hits a deer and stalls. The hunters take the opportunity to
beat Adam severely and rape Alice.
Both are understandably traumatized by the attacks, yet
their essential natures don’t change: Alice is still a selfish bitch and
Adam is still a pervert. But then one day Alice fortuitously spots one
of the rapists and learns his name.
She and Adam track down the scumbag and head to his
house out in the woods, a high-powered rifle in hand. All they net,
alas, is the guy’s dog, as Alice finds she can’t go through with the
intended sniping after spotting (who she thinks is) the asshole’s wife
exit the house.
Still, Alice isn’t about to let the opportunity for
vengeance pass. She has Adam surreptitiously install cameras so she can
monitor the doings of the rapist and his pals. But when she spies the
guy attempting to asphyxiate himself in his car Alice springs into
Taking the man into her home, Alice forces him to
confess his crimes. He reveals that the woman Alice thought was his wife
is actually his daughter, who was with him and his hunting buddies the
night of the rape--which he claims he committed in an effort to distract
his companions so they wouldn’t abuse his daughter.
But then Adam shows up and the rapist tries to turn the
tables--and things get nasty!
Writer/director Dan Reed is to be commended for turning
the conventions of conventional revenge dramas on their heads. In truth
STRAIGHTHEADS isn’t much more complex than
THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT or
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE,
but it is quite untraditional in its details. For once, the brutalized
couple at the film’s center aren’t naïve innocents forced to confront
their brute natures; in CLOSURE the protagonists are in touch with their
dark sides before they’re attacked. The details of Alice’s rape
aren’t lingered upon and nor is the final violent revenge, although both
have considerable impact nonetheless.
Yet STRAIGHTHEADS’ virtues are ultimately those of the
above-mentioned revenge potboilers: the film is compact, nasty and
suspenseful. One thing it has that’s very much in its favor is a
terrific performance by Gillian Anderson, who’s both off-putting and
sympathetic as Alice, and displays a convincing range of emotion from
narcissism to grief to righteous anger.
UK Film Council/Filmfour
Director: Dan Reed
Producer: Damian Jones, Kevin Loader
Screenplay: Dan Reed
Cinematography: Chris Seager
Editing: Ewa J. Lind
Cast: Gillian Anderson, Danny Dyer, Anthony Calf, Ralph Brown, Adam
Rayner, Anthony Byrne, Steven Robertson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Neil Finnighan,