Much ado about not-a-lot
by Nav Qateel
Angela Gray (Emma Watson) accuses her father of molestation, only the father can’t remember committing the crimes he’s accused of. Detective Bruce Kenner (Ethan Hawke), with the help of criminal psychologist Professor Kenneth Raines, starts to investigate Angela’s claims, and in the process discovers that an organised satanic ritual may have been performed on the girl.
Regression is set in 1990, a time when Satanism was all the rage and Bealzibub groupies were being blamed for everything bad that happened. To help these so-called victims of satanism remember what had happened to them, they would be “regressed” by a trained professional — the exact same technique that was used on alien abductees. But Regression would be later withdrawn as a way to treat people that had difficulty remembering traumatic events. As quoted in the film “Today regression therapies have been discredited for generating false memories.”
Written and directed by Chilean helmer Alejandro Amenábar, a filmmaker that has impressed us with previous efforts like Thesis, The Others and The Sea Inside. With his latest film Regression, Amenábar examines the effects on a religious family when accusations of Satanic molestation are raised at the father, and to a lesser extent, how the community reacts. But the main focus is on the investigator Bruce Kenner, and the alleged victim Angela.
The craggy Ethan Hawke plays a skeptical detective who’s in charge of the investigation. Hawke does a great job showing Kenner’s ambivalence with his dynamic facial features, as he starts off as a firm non-believer. Then as sleep deprivation and hysteria take hold he begins to questions his sanity and starts to believe that just maybe there’s something evil interfering with the case after all. Hawke has the chops, talent and charisma to elevate mediocre material such as this, and that’s exactly what we get to watch here. A lesser actor in this role simply couldn’t have pulled it off, and for that Amenábar has much to thank Ethan Hawke for.
Co-star Emma Watson has less to do than Hawke, however the actress gets to show off enough of her talent to impress and keep fans happy. Watson will no doubt be the reason why many folk will want to see this film. She appears to be selective when choosing her roles, and I’m certain she has offers coming at her non stop, but the actress never fails to entertain the audience. Watson’s Angela character has enough depth and emotion to keep her scenes interesting, and it shows a certain level of acting maturity that the young actress can hold her own when playing next to an experienced thespian like Ethan Hawke. The popular and talented David Thewlis completes the main characters, as he plays a professor who’s advising our hero. The remaining cast is made up of more fantastic actors, who each bring their A game to the project. The acting is extremely good throughout the movie, from the bit players right on up.
Daniel Aranyó’s photography was wonderful, with the entire film shot in a dull palate helping to set the mood and tone. Roque Baños’s fantastic score also aided with the mood of the film. Taken as a whole, Alejandro Amenábar’s latest effort is beautifully made, but at the same time it’s lacking when it comes to simple entertainment value, which ultimately is what most people require when watching any movie. As far as the message Amenábar is trying to impart, at that Regression seems to succeed. It’s far from the filmmaker’s best, but it’s still a very watchable movie.