Family Interrupted
Don't Say a Word
Review by Ross Anthony

"Don't Say A Word" begins with a fast-paced jewelry heist apropos of action genre, then cuts scene headlong into a psychological drama as psychiatrist Michael Douglas faces a dangerously insane teenage girl.

This juxtaposition is jolting at first, but quickly becomes tantalizingly Don't Say a Wordcurious. In fact, the first compelling two-thirds of the film keep you guessing and thinking, "How is all this information related?"

Brittany Murphy must have picked up a few tips from "Girl Interrupted" co-star Angelina Jolie's magnificent performance as the psychotic bloodshot teen, Douglas on top of his game, Plat adding his own style of strong thespianism; the picture builds with conviction well on its way to an "A" rating before dropping the marbles. Unfortunately, the secrets are told too soon and a self-imposed time limit (by the writers) is forgiven. These two shortcomings untie nearly all the heretofore carefully sown tension. But the fumbling doesn't stop there, "Don't Say a Word" quickly descends from a smart thinking drama to a witless, bad guys vs. good guys, dime-a-dozen flick.

A few other bones. As blunt instruments go, an aluminum crutch with a padded rest makes an absolutely unconvincing weapon. Additionally, with such a fertile cast of characters, a much tastier climax/solution could and should have been developed. Lastly, in retrospect, it becomes painfully obvious that the once intriguing premise seems so puzzling to rationalize primarily because it is hardly rational.

The intriguing title has disappointingly little meaning to the film. Why not, "Like Father Like Daughter" or "My Daughter, My Gem?" On the other hand, the current title does invoke a suitable sense of mystery.

  • Don't Say a Word. Copyright © 2001. Rated R.
  • Starring Michael Douglas, Sean Bean, Brittany Murphy, Skye McCole Bartusiak, Guy Torry, Jennifer Esposito, Shawn Doyle, Victor Argo, Conrad Goode, Paul Schulze, Lance Reddick, Famke Janssen, Oliver Platt.
  • Directed by Gary Fleder.
  • Screenplay by Anthony Peckham, Patrick Smith Kelly.
  • Based upon the book by Andrew Klavan.
  • Produced by Arnon Milchan, Arnold Kopelson, Anne Kopelson at Regency/Village Roadshow/20th Century Fox.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:13:22 PDT