"Halfway to Heaven"
Review by Ross Anthony

Are you ready for a cute little extended simile? The movie "Dragonfly" is much like its insect namesake: buggy at the front and rear ends, but fluttery, eerily wafting, in the middle.

The film opens with a series of sequences that normally would have been flashbacks. But since no "actual present" is established, the sequences are really pre-story moments; like the "bring you up to speed" intro to the second part of a "to be continued" TV program. Essentially we learn that Joe's (Costner's) wife Emily (Thompson) had been out volunteering in some South American tribal village and then killed in a tragic bus accident. Since these segments exhibit little cinematic value, and since they aren't even necessary; I'd have cut them entirely from the picture. Let viewers wonder why Doctor Joe is acting so on-edge in the E.R., slowly subtly tell them.

The picture continues with stiff acting and dialogue up until a flatlining kid calls out Joe's name. Good actors give inconsistent performances and speak ridiculously sticky dialogue (characters introduce themselves by profession, etc.). Granted, Joe suppresses his grief, but Costner ought to have been directed to convey its hidden weight. Anyway, I'm sighing, wondering how low I'm going to grade this flick, and then that kid resurrects in a jolting instant. His flatline chart spikes -- same for the film. That stopped my daydreaming, giving me goose bumps and held breaths. Joe believes that his wife may be trying to communicate to him. Despite some transgressions during this hovering middle - I remained compelled, straight-lipped, and wide-eyed until nearer the end. In there somewhere, an intense scene with Joe's pet totally freaked me out.

Wonderfully eerie, the fluttering middle of this film slows its wing speed substantially prior to a less than smashing climax and some embarrassing resolution. Matching impressively chilling instants with laughably poor ones, "Dragonfly" averages out. A wonderful idea whose execution remains inconsistently entertaining.

  • Dragonfly. Copyright © 2002. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Kevin Costner, Ron Rifkin, Joe Morton, Linda Hunt, Susanna Thompson, Jacob Vargas, Kathy Bates.
  • Directed by Tom Shadyac.
  • Screenplay by David Seltzer and Brandon Camp & Mike Thompson.
  • Produced by Mark Johnson, Tom Shadyac, Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber at Universal/Spyglass.


Copyright © 2002. 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: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:13:25 PDT