A review of “Derailed” by Jeanne Aufmuth


Stars: **

Rating: R for sex and graphic violence

Run Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes



Those who don’t subsist on a heavy diet of cut-rate thrillers may uncover something unique in this cookie-cutter drama but for the over-initiated it smacks of been-there, done-that.

Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is a mild-mannered ad exec with a stale marriage, a sick daughter and a daily commuter pass. He meets mysterious Lucinda Harris (Jennifer Aniston) on the train and is immediately smitten by her good looks and black nylon clad legs.

The friendship segues to drinks and then an extramarital dalliance that turns sour when the pair is viciously attacked in their seedy hotel room. Charles is beaten to a bloody pulp and Lucinda repeatedly raped. Can’t call the police, she says, my husband will know I’ve been with you.

Forced by circumstance to keep quiet the adulterers part for good. Soon enough the assailant (French actor Vincent Cassel) comes calling for the obligatory blackmail cash. Consumed by guilt Charles goes to great lengths to appease the man, all the while putting his family in jeopardy and frantically searching for a way out. Any way out.

Cue the discordant strains of screeching violins. There isn’t a minute of “Derailed” that feels fresh or new, fraught as it is with gratuitous violence and taut but manufactured moments. Even the strangers-on-a-train meeting has a hackneyed, repetitive quality to it. Twist piles on twist; technically clever but altogether too reminiscent of “Fatal Attraction” et al.

Script is no picnic either, culled from the Movie Dialogue 101 handbook by utilizing such pearls as “When your back is up against the wall you gotta do what you gotta do”. Words to live by.

Owen and Aniston must have read like a dream on paper, celebs of the moment with rising stars and massive sex appeal. In reality theirs is a bad fit, minimal chemistry and a dense mood that doesn’t conform to Aniston’s effervescent persona.

Film looks great; dark and sharp. But not good enough to shell out ten dollars and two hours.