Riva/Presents Extra author Heidi Rice investigates the muscular new Jake Gyllenhaal thriller and discovers that guy movies can be surprising pleasing for the ladies too.
So on Mother's Day this weekend my oldest son offered to take me to the movies (aw!). Of course there was a slight catch in that I had to pay, but as he paid for the popcorn and I got to pick the movie I wasn't complaining. Unfortunately when I looked at our local cinema listings it soon became apparent that they hadn't factored in the upcoming 'celebrate your mum' day and the schedules were packed with what I like to think of as 'dick flicks' - testosterone-fuelled thrillers which while sometimes exhilarating can also be dehumanising and exhausting, and don't have a lot of those touchy-feely moments that I enjoy.
Undaunted I decided to pick my movie according to eye candy treat factor instead and in a toss up between Jake Gyllenhaal and Bradley Cooper, Jake won. But apart from the fact that Jake was in Source Code, I knew nothing else about the movie, which I think is always a big advantage when going to watch a thriller. Because let's face it, the element of surprise (and the eye candy) can often be the only thing they have going for them.
As it turned out, Source Code had a lot more going for it than that...
It has one of those fiendishly clever but also deceptively simple plots which reminded me a bit of the old Twilight Zone series, or Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected — involved are alternative realities, parallel universes, an eight-second time-delay flashback structure (think Memento meets Groundhog Day), the race-against-time investigation of a major terrorist attack and enough twists and turns and adrenaline-pumping action to keep you ploughing through your popcorn at a rate of knots. Now, I'm not going to say anything more about the plot than that, because I wouldn't want to give anything away, and it's better to see this movie without knowing what the heck is going on, because then you're living it through the eyes of Jake's main character. He's as clueless as you are, when he wakes up on a commuter train travelling into Chicago living another man's life, in another man's body and sitting opposite a woman who he's never seen before, but who obviously knows him... And well, enough said. It's confusing, but in a good way that will get your brain cells working..
But what I really enjoyed about this movie, was the fabulous emotional punch at the centre of it all. Because as well as being a brilliant thriller, this film is a heart-breaking drama which deals with the richness of life (even lived in eight-second chunks), the finality of death, the discovery that human connections — family, friendship, love — are the only thing that really make a life worth living and a lot of other big important emotional (and dare I say, girly) themes besides.
Oh yeah, and Jake Gyllenhaal is HAWT!
Heidi is currently getting ready to do a series of M&B writing workshops in London over April, so if you're about come join the fun. Her latests Presents Extra, Surf, Sea and a Sexy Stranger is out now in the US and her first Riva, Cupcakes and Killer Heels, which is a linked book to Sexy Stranger, hits shelves in the UK next month. You can get a free Riva copy of Sexy Stranger or an ebook of Walk of Fame (aka Public Affair, Secretly Expecting) in the UK here. Come have a natter with her on her website, her blog, on Facebook or thru Twitter (@HeidiRomRice).