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Trauma (15)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: One

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary by Marc Evans and Colin Firth. Making of. Trailer.

COLIN Firth takes a refreshing break away from his romantic leading man persona to play an edgy and delusional car crash victim, who may or may not be a murderer, in Trauma, a new psychological chiller from My Little Eye director, Marc Evans.

Yet, while the performance is note-worthy, the film falls some way short of that status largely because its twists feel too sign-posted and the conclusion lacks the shock value viewers may have been anticipating.

It’s a shame, for Trauma certainly starts strongly. Awaking from a coma, a man called Ben (Firth) discovers that his beloved wife (Naomie Harris) has been killed in a car accident, in which he was driving.

Haunted by memories and guilt, he attempts to get his life back in order, and even strikes up a friendship with the mysterious girl next door (Mena Suvari’s Charlotte), only to become increasingly paranoid by what he believes to be visions of his dead wife.

His deteriorating mental condition is not helped by the police investigation into the brutal murder of pop star, Lauren Parris, with whom Ben may be linked.

But As he attempts to make sense of his fragmented past, using the help of an unseen psychiatrist, it quickly becomes apparent that his problems may have stemmed from before the crash, and that he is not as innocent as he believes.

The truth, however, turns out to have shocking consequences - only not as shocking as Evans may have hoped.

For all of its camera trickery - involving rapid editing and jerky camera-work, designed with a view to offering a glimpse into Ben’s mental state - the film fails to escape the grim inevitability that hangs over it, so much so that it feels like a triumph of style over substance.

Evans seems so obsessed with the tricks of his trade, that he forgets to invest proceedings with any real emotion, making the picture that results a particularly cold affair in spite of some clever visual touches.

By the time it reaches its conclusion, therefore, viewers may well have tired of the journey and leave the cinema pondering, ‘so what?’

And while Firth may be extremely watchable in the lead performance (ably demonstrating a darker, edgier side to his affable persona), he is often let down by those around him, with Suvari particularly unconvincing as his new love interest (who may or may not be a figment of Ben’s imagination), and the likes of Harris and Ken Cranham, as a police inspector, not being given enough to do.

Those with a phobia of spiders, or insects in general, are probably advised to stay away, too, given Evans’ use of creepy-crawlies late on, while some of the imagery feels lifted straight out of better psychological movies, such as Jacob’s Ladder.

Trauma isn’t without its plus points - it certainly hints at greater things to come for its director, while also providing an interesting alternative for Firth’s legion of fans - but it ultimately fails to rise above the average, despite the curiosity value that comes attached.

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