(Robin Spry, 1987)
Having failed at light espionage thriller with "Keeping Track", here Spry fails at the social-issue drama. Macro there's attempted big statements about law and personal responsibility, micro there's extensive hand-wringing over a particularly problematic clause in the Canada-US extradition treaty, but the details are alternately vague and fussy, so one doesn't resonate with the other. And the delivery device for this polemic is a psychological thriller that understands neither psychology nor thrills. An inciting incident that should have been a devastating shift in tone is cruelly undermined by the under-dramatized halfpipe demonstration that precedes it and the over-dramatized emotional manipulation that ensues; and instead of establishing a sympathetic character off the top, feral mom Kerrie Keane starts self-absorbed and remote and goes off the deep end. In fact every character is so doggedly underwritten that any time anything happens at all it appears attributable to a case of temporary insanity. The A-list cast often looks like they might be on to something if only the movie would grow a brain, especially Saul Rubinek as the nemesis. Even the child performers are impressive. But the form and content are so alienated, the human logic so lost in the op-ed armchair, that you feel more pity than empathy.