FILM 2021

It’s the ’90s again in ‘Every Breath You Take’

We stand numbly by as the twitchy, grinning psycho stalks the family

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Working up a spritz in its humorless, predictable fashion, as if it were 1992 all over again, this grade-B thriller is working from a nobody script that’s been unaccountably floating around in option-land for almost a decade — buzz has it that Harrison Ford and Zac Efron were attached once. Casey Affleck is a mumbly psychiatrist whose young son has recently died in a car crash, a backstory he set fire to in Manchester by the Sea, but which seems here to make him sleepy. His wife (Michelle Monaghan) was driving, so they’re not really talking. One of his patients, a fraught girl with an abusive boyfriend, commits suicide — caused, some say, by his unorthodox (and unseen) therapy methods. But the real tragedy shows up in the form of Sam Claflin, whose face seems to have spent months at the face-gym, lifting face-weights, and who claims to be the dead girl’s brother. We know better, because we’ve seen a hundred movies like this, but nobody else seems to, and no one thinks to Google him (remember, the script is old), and so we stand numbly by as the twitchy, grinning psycho stalks the family, seducing Monaghan’s angsty mom and charming the family’s goth-rebel teen daughter (India Eisley). If he’d talked Affleck’s pants off, too, then we might’ve had ourselves a real soiree (and a nod toward the pansexual invasions of Pasolini’s Teorema), but no such luck; the post-Fatal Attraction-era vibe consistently leans into a fog of dated glossiness, Vancouver real estate porn, and, of course, plot switcheroos we saw coming at us like lobbed badminton birdies.    ❖

Every Breath You Take
Directed by Vaughn Stein

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