Dot the I

  Dot the I
"Loved your work in 'Chicago'."

© 2003, Summit Entertainment
All Rights Reserved

As its tagline "danger is in the details" suggests, Matthew Parkhill's directing and screenplay debut "Dot the I" (IMDb listing) is a suspense/drama that will keep you seated through its one-and-a-half-hour runtime. Filled with multiple twists, the film ceaselessly engages the audience's attention and maintains suspense. Parkhill utilizes a film-within-a-film pattern by including video footage both within and outside the storyline to induce thrill and tension, while also attempting to make a commentary on the act of filmmaking and viewing.

Carmen (Natalia Verbeke) is a Spanish girl who is about to get married to ever-so-nice and loving boyfriend Barnaby (James D'Arcy) in London. Her wedding plans become complicated when she rather untraditionally meets Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal) at her bachelorette dinner. A maitre d' tells Carmen that French tradition calls for her to kiss someone random one last time before tying the knot, and so she kisses Kit. The kiss turns out to be much more than random, and a love triangle ensues.

The film offers twist after twist toward the end, engrossing the audience with revelations, but it falls somewhat short on the characters and plot. The characters are overly dramatic, way too flamboyant and formulaic. Carmen, the tainted; Kit the tempting foreigner and Barnaby the betrayed but ever-so-accepting groom. All the cliche ingredients for a turbulent love triangle are present, and this feels rather excessive. "Amores Perros" star Bernal is not at his best, and his pseudo-British accent is irritating. Still, he and the beautiful Verbeke are luminous in this colorful but soap-opera-like story.

"Dot the I" can be viewed as a commentary on us, the audience, and our need for and fascination with watching. Parkhill's camera keeps our eyes on the screen by thrusting our own voyeuristic gaze right back in our face. He utilizes jump-cuts and elliptical edits that give the film a music-video feel. Although these tactics allow him to engage and surprise the audience, they fail to make up for the flaws of the unrealistic storyline.

This film definitely surprises the viewer at the end, but it feels like nothing more than a snuff movie with a Hollywood facade.

Filmfodder Grade: C+