“ Genre: Crime & Thriller / Suitable for 15 years and over / Director: Stephen Tolkin / Actors: Oliver Hudson, Claire Forlani, Josie Davis ... / DVD released 2007-10-22 at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: Subtitled, PAL „
RELEASED: 2007, Cert. 15
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 95 mins
DIRECTOR/SCREENPLAY: Stephen Tolkin
PRODUCER: Salli Newman
MUSIC: Steve Porcaro
Claire Forlani as Tory Bodeen
Oliver Hudson as Cade Lavelle
Josie Davis as Faith Lavelle
Jacqueline Bisset as Margaret Lavelle
Shaun Johnston as Han Bodeen
Chad Willett as Wade Mooney
Jonathan Scarfe as Dwight Collier
FILM ONLY REVIEW
Originally made for TV and based on a novel of the same name written by Nora Roberts, Carolina Moon begins with Tory Bodeen returning to her home town (in one of the Carolinas) after years spent living in New York. Tory Bodeen hooks up again with her cousins and childhood pals, still holding memories and flashbacks from many years previously when her best friend Hope had been murdered.
Tory's upbringing in the small town was very abusive, with a violent father who used to beat her, and an apathetic mother who was unable to stand up for her daughter. On returning to the town, Tory finds it difficult to come face to face with her parents again, and she isn't welcomed by Margaret Lavelle, the dead girl Helen's mother, who blames Tory's father for the murder of her daughter, tarring him and Tory with the same brush.
Things aren't made any easier for Tory, because she has psychic abilities which have been with her since she was a little girl, and Margaret also resents the fact that at the time of Helen's murder, Tory appears not to have used her powers to prevent the tragedy from happening.
Also, and over the years that Tory has been away, there has been a series of sporadic serial killings in the small town and her father is the number one suspect. By and by, and as Tory has visions and flashbacks not just about the past but the present too, she tries to help the police work out who the killer is, but each time she is almost on the verge of learning his identity, her psychic powers shut down, not allowing her to see his face.
I understand that Carolina Moon is a film adapted from a novel, but I am unable to say whether it is an accurate portrayal, as I've never read it.
Filmed in a beautiful southern states location, Carolina Moon begins quite well as Tory re-settles in her home town, and the story shows her memories stirring up from the days when she and Helen as children were best friends, then the nightmare day of little Helen's murder. That part of the film is quite interesting, which I felt gave a good grounding for what follows.
The acting for me did leave a bit to be desired, as somehow the characters seemed a bit disconnected and superficial, although Shaun Johnston as Han Bodeen managed to accurately portray the nasty piece of work who is Tory's vicious father....for me, he was the best of a rather dubious bunch.
One thing which really irritated me throughout the film was that large chunks of the spoken dialogue are mumbled and muttered, made worse by the Southern accents which I'm not sure if the actors put on, or whether they really do speak like that....but those accents sounded very unnatural to me. I have no idea why in a film like this that the direction/production team obviously felt it to be acceptable for the cast to mumble - especially Claire Forlani and Tory Bodeen as
Tory Bodeen and Cade Lavelle respectively - because much of their conversation with one another is significant in understanding which character is which and how they relate to one another, together with various aspects of grounding the storyline. Although I did for the most part manage to work out what was happening in the film, my levels of comprehension were here and there flung into overdrive as I struggled to understand what the characters were saying to one another.
Returning to the acting ability of the cast, each of the main characters seemed to lack depth of personality, resulting in a film which I was unable to completely become absorbed in, as everybody came across as far too wooden and unconvincing as real people.
As far as the story itself is concerned, it isn't 100% original, and its format is predictable in that there is a bad guy on the loose and a suspect. Also, some of the story from the point of view of likelihood is bitty, because there are various loose ends involving a couple of the characters which aren't tied up or explained. Unless I misunderstood something - which is possibly so due to the mumbled swathes of dialogue - there is a huge discrepancy in what happens in the suspect's life, and details of how and when the murders happened.
There are a few points in the later part of Carolina Moon where it threatens to become a bit mawkish and cheesy, especially in the area of romance. It doesn't quite disgrace itself, but dips its toes into dubiously slushy waters. However, such is also quite sweet!
I don't feel as though the music lent much at all to the overall atmosphere of Carolina Moon, it being light orchestral in nature. In fact, I think that is what above all is wrong with the film....it simply isn't atmospheric enough, and it could have been created and put across with far greater levels of suspense and tension.
As it stands, the ending of Carolina Moon is quite rushed, hence coming across as contrived. There is a level of predictability present which would be OK if it were the only film which has ever been made with this type of storyline, but because it's been done so many times in probably hundreds of other movies, I had an "I've seen this all before" feeling throughout.
However, I did manage to stay watching Carolina Moon even though I could guess the outcome and was frustrated by the mumbling, but it isn't something I'd wish to see again.
In summary, Carolina Moon does have a fairly good even though not original storyline, but it could have been acted and presented so much better...as it stands, it even around the edges has a slight soap opera quality. I'd like to have seen far more powerful performances from the main cast, far less mumbling and those loose ends and unlikelihood of some of the finer details tidied up. Although as said above I haven't read it, I have a feeling that this is one of those all too common cases where the novel possibly is far better than the film. Carolina Moon, the film, is moderately entertaining and can be viewed as something which could half-fill an evening, but it isn't the greatest story ever told, nor does it contain a stunning dialogue or a mind-blowing cast. The whole concept of and crux of the storyline is far too much like Stephen King's 'The Dead Zone', the movie of which is far more feasible, chilling, absorbing and captivating.
At the time of writing, Carolina Moon can be purchased from Amazon as follows:-
New: from £3.14 to £8.50
Used: from £1.48 to £6.98
Some items on Amazon are available for free delivery within the UK, but where this doesn't apply, a £1.26 charge should be added to the above figures.
Thanks for reading!
~~ Also published on Ciao under my CelticSoulSister user name ~~