in Blog Post, Film/TV Commentary, Review

Alarm (2008): Review

ALARM (2008), written and directed by Gerard Stembridge, is an unnerving tale of distrust and mental instability.

Well, that’s if you simplify it. And that’s no fun, now is it?

So! We meet this lovely lass, Molly, right? And she’s had a rough go at it. Her dad was killed in a break-in and she’s been seeing a psychiatrist ever since. Until she decides she wants to take a break from her sessions. Molly determines she’d like to move out of her surrogate-parents (let’s call ‘em that, yeah?) house to get her own place, outside of Dublin. I mentioned this is an Irish film, haven’t I? No? Well it is.

I’m going to avoid the spoilers and such, so this will be as general as it can be, without sounding like I’m making it up.

I’ve watched ALARM many times now (on Netflix).  I love writing like this, the kind that drops hints along the way and leaves them with multiple interpretations. ALARM is full of moments like this. Molly moves outside of the city, but her house is broken into several times. It seems personal, a possible vendetta from someone else who had wanted to buy the same place. But then the questions and uncertainty close in around her. Who’s behind the break-ins? Are others trying to manipulate her? To take advantage of her? It tightens around Molly, causing her to feel more and more like she’s losing her mind. Then again. . . She’s been taking pills all along, but had stopped taking them. What were these pills? What do her “surrogate-parents” know about her? What might they have told her boyfriend, Mal? Even you, the audience, begin to question.

You know, let me level with you. As a completely biased reviewer; watch this movie. It is well written, great acting, and it warrants multiple views to consider different character perspectives.  I know, I know. I’m sounding a bit flippant. But seriously, I really like this film. Want to hear things that I didn’t like as much?

Okay. See, here’s the thing. Molly, right? She’s a bit over reactive. That’s her character. It’s part of the point of the film. So I can’t actually say anything negative about it. She bothers me because I’m the type of woman who cannot handle panic. I just don’t. I don’t find the freaking-out part useful at all. So when Molly is screaming in hysterics (understandable to her previous experiences), I can’t stop thinking, “Geez, pull yourself together! Just TRUST SOMEONE! Pick one! Mal, maybe? Come on!” But, again. That’s me. So don’t blame the movie.

Speaking of Mal. . . This half of the blog is in regards to The List (of who I want to work with, someday). In this case; Aidan Turner. Basically, I’m gonna talk about his performance now.  Shall we?

Aidan Turner plays the lovely (and occasionally unnerving) boyfriend, Mal. I know we’re supposed to be suspicious of him, even early on. But the trouble, for me anyway, is that Mal acts (and dresses) really similarly to one of my closest friends. It was the weirdest thing to see. From wide shots he just looked so much like my friend, but with darker hair and an excellent Irish accent (Turner”s natural accent, of course). So, seeing as there was such a similarity to someone I trust so well, I had a hard time being induced to distrust of Mal.

But back to the point. Aidan Turner has this mesmerizing quality to flit between incredibly charming in his enthusiasm to suddenly derailing your trust with an out-of-place expression. I think it’s scarier when you think, “Rationally, I should NOT trust this guy,” but you continue to do just that anyway. It’s the perfect quality for this character in this film. You understand how Molly wants to turn to him for comfort, but then there’s just enough that’s slightly off to throw it into question. What is Mal sticking around for? Could he be orchestrating the break-ins? Has anyone actually broken in, or has it all been staged?

Aidan Turner’s performance is an excellent counter-balance to Ruth Bradley’s portrayal of the unstable Molly. Where she was in hysterics, he would remain calm and effect that calm on Molly. I took Mal to be something of an anchor for her. And when the questioning and uncertainty reached all the way back to him, she lost all her bearings. It’s very interesting to watch from character and psychological point of views.

There’s this intensity about Aidan Turner that I’ve heard people mention in interviews and such. He defers this intensity to his facial features; dark, expressive eyebrows and so on. I disagree. Yeah, I know. Who am I to disagree, eh? But just hear me out, okay? It isn’t his looks, because looks alone don”t radiate the energy Aidan Turner does. The life he gives Mal in his dialogue and movement doesn’t come from those dark, expressive eyebrows. It just doesn”t. So, basically, Aidan Turner is being modest in these interviews. I like modest.

For further proof: If you haven’t seen ALARM, watch it and wait for the scene when Mal gives Molly her Christmas present. I defy you not to reciprocate his excitement with a smile that will not be held back. Aidan Turner puts everything in his heart into every moment. And that is what draws people to his characters. I’d love to see him in a stage performance, assuming that he’ll still take the stage every once in a… blue moon…

So. The Recap:
Watch ALARM.
Aidan Turner is mesmerizing and unnerving as Mal.
It isn’t just the eyebrows.