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The Bourne Supremacy

"When Good Films Make Big Errors"

Nothing depresses more than a film with strong potential that goes south due to a glaring misjudgment. A love story can't work if the characters' motivations are fogged by script holes. A thriller only baffles the audience if they cannot concentrate on the action. Two new films have much to offer, but sketchy screenwriting in "A Home At The End of the World" and shoddy camerawork and editing in "The Bourne Supremacy" prevent me from fully recommending either.
Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Cunningham ("The Hours") adapted his own novel "A Home At The End Of The World" for this Michael Mayer production. Bobby Morrow learned the precariousness of life early when in 1969 the brother he idolized dies before his eyes. Before graduating from college, he has lost his entire family. His best friend Jonathan, a misfit coming to grips with his homosexuality, adopts Bobby into his family.
Years later in 1982, Bobby (Colin Farrell), still a free spirit, returns to his touchstone Jonathan (Dallas Roberts) in New York. Jonathan's punk rock Girl Friday Clare (Robin Wright Penn) falls madly for the bohemian Bobby and instantly comes between the two "brothers." But there's a secret she hasn't guessed; one from the past that will eventually leave her extraneous.
A complicated love story convolutedly strays because Cunningham's script ignores vital character motivations. The three players in this love triangle have our empathy immediately, but the cloudy rationales left me cold.
The cast shapes the roles as best they can. Farrell continues to prove his status as the most watchable actor. Magnetic eyes and a boyish smile make Bobby beguiling to all, an inadvertent pied piper. Also in top form, Sissy Spacek shines as Jonathan's loving mother, who slips away from the suburban shackles and expands her mind due to Bobby's influence.
Both Roberts and Wright Penn give strong performances as the platonic couple disrupted by the newcomer, but Wright suffers the most from the script troubles.

The script and performances are the prime assets of "Bourne Supremacy" if only the cinematography didn't have me grabbing for the Dramamine.
At the end of "Bourne Identity" Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) warned the government to leave him. They didn't listen. Framed for a murder of an agent, Bourne becomes a target of an FBI agent (Joan Allen), obsessed with tracking Jason down.
Screenwriter Tony Gilroy takes the book's predictable plot and adds sharp dialogue to create an action thrill ride.
As the calculating Bourne, Damon commands the role, but it's Joan Allen as the agent consumed by the truth that stole the show. Twice this year, Allen has played roles that in others hands would have been forgettable, but both here and in "The Notebook," Allen has dazzled with piercing portrayals.
As for the villains, they're obvious from the start. They are director Paul Greengrass ("Bloody Sunday"), cinematographer Oliver Wood and one or both of the editors Richard Pearson and Christopher Rouse. The cameraman must have worn one high heel and one flip-flop while filming every scene, for the frame never stands still. It even wobbled during quiet moments where there is not logic reason for the un-steady cam. I haven't been so woozy since "Blair Withc Project." The choppy editing also disrupts these scenes. The action scenes, particularly the "newspaper" fight, have been framed too tightly, lit too dark and containing two people wearing similar clothes. It's never clear who's throwing which punch.
"Bourne Supremacy" and "A Home At The End of the World" contain such brilliant moments that it's regretful that neither had another few months for reshoots. There's the kernel of great cinema ready to pop.
Grade: "A Home At The End of the World": B-; "Bourne Supremacy": B+

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