Dragonfly

DRAGONFLY. 2002

Director: Tom Shadyac

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Dragonfly functions in part as a "faith-based" film promoting near-death experiences. It starts out moderately entertaining & for the first half hour seems likely to be headed somewhere. Dr. Emily Darrow (Susannah Thompson) is killed in an accident in the Venezuelan jungle, her body never recovered. Her husband, Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) begins to have a series of possibly supernatural, possibly delusional encounters that make him believe his wife is attempting to communicate with him.

His wife had been a pediatric cancer specialist & they worked in the same hospital. While Joe is visiting child patients on the oncology ward, he discovers that two of the kids -- one while temporarily dead, the other while in a coma -- have encountered Emily not in the tunnel of light usual to near-death experiences, but inside a rainbow, & she's indeed trying to get messages to him, having something to do with a crooked wavy cross both children keep drawing.

Because her body was never recovered, Joe becomes convinced she's still alive. At the same time he is quite clearly losing his marbles, endangering patients while having a violent fit which causes him to be forced to take a sabbatical.

Some of the mystical experiences are horrific & the film cannot decide whether it wants to be a romantic Ghost about communication from the grave between soul-mates Demi Moore & Patrick Swayzee, or a tale of terror in which a creepy ghost just totally drives someone into the madhouse.

It ultimately ends on a high note of absurd sentiment causing the viewer to go, ohhhh, it's not a horror film after all. The promising first half hour of the film falls all to pieces in the spookhouse second third; then the excesses of the final third tumble downhill to the point of ridiculousness until there is a "surprise" climax not entirely ineffective because not entirely predictable nor illogical, but not good enough to make up for the cluttery nonsense leading up to that end.

Kathy Bates has a good support role as a head-shaven fat dyke whose partner died so she & Joe can commiserate, but she's a level-headed attorney who doesn't for an instant believe any of his weird experiences are real. Linda Hunt turns in an unintentionally comical performance as the midget nun tricked out in the old-fashioned penguin-nun outfit, who investigates near death experiences, & is forced to deliver some of the lamest dialog since theater audiences burst into laughter in her Dune appearance wherein she rasped with glow-in-the-dark eyes, "I am the Shadout Mapes."

Kevin Costner in the main has to carry the film singlehandedly, & he is one of the more repulsive "stars" permitted to keep making films. In the first third of the film he manages not to drag it all down & is convincing as the grieving Regular Joe; not pretending to be handsome or heroic or anything but a psyche case works for him. But by the time he's throwing tantrums or mugging with looks of horror or leaping with faux heroics from a jungle cliff, he's the usual dufus he seems inevitably to be in every one of his grossly egocentric roles.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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