Where to begin with Premonition, the newest film starring Sandra Bullock? I like Bullock, I really do. She's smart and sexy and I'm sure her bank account makes mine look like a kids' piggy bank, but I sure wish she'd make smarter choices with her films. I wanted very much to like Premonition, if for no other reason than that it looked intriguing enough in the trailer, and I was really rooting for Bullock to finally hit it out of the park both critically and financially. Unfortunately, this film isn't going to be the one to do it. Premonition is just an incredible mess from start to finish, filled with so many logical inconsistencies, it's practically impossible for the audience to sustain the necessary suspension of disbelief for long.
The premise sounds intriguing enough: one day, Linda Hanson (Bullock) answers the door to find the sheriff there to inform her that her husband Jim (Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon) died in a car crash the day before. Linda moves through that first hard day in the wake of her husband's death, numb with grief and shock. Her mother comes over to help her with Linda and Jim's two young daughters, and Linda falls asleep on the couch, clutching a wedding picture of herself and Jim. She wakes up the next morning, in her own bed – and is shocked to find Jim downstairs drinking his morning coffee and very much alive.
During the scenes where Jim is alive, we get a closer look at the Hanson's marriage. Like many couples around the tenth or twelfth year of marriage, ennui, coupled with stressors like a mortgage payment and private school tuition for the kids, has set in. Jim and Linda's marriage was not as perfect as it seemed on the surface. There are hints of infidelity on Jim's part (or at least, thoughts of infidelity – we, like Linda, aren't really sure) and quiet desperation on Linda's. Linda, a stay-at-home mom, apparently spends her days jogging to keep her figure trim and relentlessly doing housework-their house is almost painfully neat, every toy in place, no dirty dishes in the sink, no dust bunnies along the baseboards.
Anyhow, soon everyone seems to turn against Linda, and we start to wonder exactly what's going on – is Jim really dead? Is he faking his death to run off with his mistress? Drugging Linda to make her seem crazy? Are her family and friends involved, in some kind of bizarre cult ala Rosemary's Baby or True Believers? This is supposed to be a thriller in that we don't know what's going on, which is supposed to keep us on the edge of our seats, but by this point the script is such a mess that it's hard to keep everything straight (and not in a good, Memento-esque way either).
Director Mannen Yapo tries to gain some sense of order over the mess by establishing a hazy, artsy look for scenes that are from the past (see, they're kind of hazy because it's in the past – get it?) and tosses in a couple of red herrings to up the ante, but ultimately nothing can save the film from such a poorly constructed script. The premise is interesting enough, in the right hands, but for pity's sake, next time call Christopher Nolan, or even M. Night Shymalan, either of whom could have done a better job executing it (and I say that even having disliked Lady in the Water almost as much as I disliked this film).
Premonition kind of had me there for the first 20 minutes or so, as I tried to figure out just what was going on; I spent the middle chunk of the film trying to keep track of everything and ignore the voice in my head (and the ones in the audience whispering around me) pointing out yet another inconsistency. The ending of the film – well, I'm not going to give anything away here, but I'll just say that I sat there in numb disbelief for a minute before walking out of the movie more irritated than I've been in recent memory, feeling completely cheated by both screenwriter and director.
There's no chemistry at all between Bullock and McMahon; sure, they're supposed to be on a downward curve in their marriage, but in those moments when they do emotionally connect, it needs to feel believable, and it doesn't. The sad thing is, Bullock tries really hard to make this film work, and to be fair, and there are moments here that are among the best I've seen from her as an actress. It doesn't really matter, though, because the script is just so poorly constructed, the logic so convoluted and the execution so confusing, that she never has a chance. She could be turning in an Oscar-worthy performance, but with a script this bad, how on earth could you tell? Kate Winslet, Helen Mirren, and Meryl Streep put together couldn't take this script and make a good movie out of it.