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      Suspicious River

      R Released Sep 9, 2000 1 hr. 35 min. Drama List
      29% 7 Reviews Tomatometer 30% 100+ Ratings Audience Score A married woman (Molly Parker) who turns tricks in a hotel becomes drawn to a psychotic (Callum Keith Rennie) brute. Read More Read Less

      Audience Reviews

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      kevin c Molly Parker plays a motel clerk adjacent to a river, offering the lonely male patrons companionship for extra money despite the fact she is married. She continues walking that edge getting deeper into her new personality which puts her in a dangerous situation. Parker is completely compelling in the lead and you become mesmerized by her performance. Kind of a dark and bleak movie but a riveting watch. Callum Keith Rennie costars. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member A woman working at a motel prostitutes herself to the guests and falls into a sadistic relationship on the side. The film is bleak, ambiguous and ultimately dissatisfying. Molly Parker's performance is cold and detached but appropriate to the material. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review walter m At a roadside motel, Leila Murray(Molly Parker), a hotel receptionist, provides sexual services for guests, stashing the money in her shoe before she begins. While all of this is going on, her husband Rick(Joel Bissonnette) remains home unemployed and quite blissfully unaware. And all goes well until Gary Jensen(Callum Keith Rennie) punches her before forcing her to the floor. Afterwords, he apologizes for his rough actions. For the record, Leila's only friend seems to be the little girl(Mary Kate Welsh) down the lane who she talks with when sitting on a dock at the river while enjoying a cigarette. With Molly Parker's luminating and captivating presence raising it above the purely mundane, "Suspicious River" otherwise is not that different from many other cautionary tales, with its good(pregnant) girl/bad girl dichotomy amongst the motel receptionists.(In fact, "Stargate SG1" fans might find this movie the most disturbing.) As much as the movie aims for a psychosexual reading, I think it comes down to money more than anything else for Leila who is trapped by inaction. Otherwise, there is an 11th hour plot twist that while sort of making sense and tying everything together, is also something of a cheat. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Suspicious River (Lynne Stopkewich, 2000) There's something about this movie that's just not right. That is a statement that may not make sense, at least not coming from me. After all, the last time Stopkewich and Parker teamed up, they made Kissed, the 1996 film based on Barbara Gowdy's short story "We So Seldom Look on Love", in turn based on the story (and trial) of necrophile Karen Greenlee. And Kissed has been on my list of the hundred best movies ever made for well over a decade now. Given that, what variable changed to make this movie... well, not Kissed? The obvious, if possibly facile, answer is the source material. I will note right up front that I have not read the Laura Kasischke novel upon which this movie is based, and so everything I'm about to say here is pure, unadulterated speculation based on the past performances of the appropriate parties. But there's a men-are-evil streak that runs a mile wide through this movie. It doesn't appear in Kissed; while the male lead there is something of a heel, he's at least a well-meaning heel, who tries to figure out ways to make himself more attractive to Parker's necrophile because he has a genuine fondness for her (rather than just a fascination for her particular kink). On the other hand, and I should probably put SPOILER here just in case, there's not a single male character in Suspicious River who doesn't deserve to be removed from the gene pool immediately, while the movie's women, what few of them there are (the more to make room for disgusting, nasty men, of course), are all saints or angels, driven to the extremes they go to because they are forced to live in the male-dominated world. Which may sound like exaggeration. Trust me, it isn't. Leila (Parker) is a front desk clerk at a motel in the backwoods town of Suspicious River. The area is economically depressed and Leila's husband is a good-for-nothing layabout, so offered the choice at one point, Leila takes up prostitution, servicing hotel customers who want a little something more than the continental breakfast with their rooms. Initially, this is presented in a detached, almost whimsical fashion (there's a great cameo by the late, great Don Davis as one of her early clients), but all that changes when she's approached by, and beds, Gary Jensen (Memento's Callum Keith Rennie), who turns out to be a local and wants to keep seeing her. (If you've seen the film, did it cross your mind as well that in a town this small, how did she not know this guy already?) After one of her dates goes bad, instead of turning to her husband, Leila finds herself calling Gary, and soon enough, the wheels are set in motion for the tragedy we know is going to occur, for Gary, too, is married. There's also a subplot with a little girl (30 Days of Night: Dark Days' Katie Keating) who lives in a house close to the motel who idolizes Leila, but that subplot, and the deeper meaning behind it, kind of get short shrift in this screenplay. Despite my ranting and raving in the opening paragraph, I don't want to imply that you shouldn't see this film. If for no other reason, you should see it because Parker's performance, as all of her performances I've seen to date, is powerful and lovely. I grant you, from what I have read of the novel underlying this film, had her character been as complex as Leila-the-novel-character was, she might have stepped into Oscar territory with it, but what we get is about what one would expect from an actress of Parker's estimable caliber. More surprising is the turn from Rennie, who inhabits his scumbag with an enthusiasm that's kind of disturbing, really. Stopkewich once again teams up with DP Gregory Middleton (Slither), who does really, really good work in the kind of outdoors-woodsy-claustrophobic settings Stopkewich uses for her pictures, and once again he does a fantastic job of making this all look as bleak and barren as it should be. It could be much more than it is, but what's here is worth your time, at least. *** Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review Audience Member I'm not really sure what the point was. Molly Parker is always great, though. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 01/16/23 Full Review Audience Member <i>Suspicious River</i> is kind of an awesome movie, in the way that you feel some measure of awe when you see a truly awful movie. I'm not talking about a movie that is so bad that it becomes campy and funny, but instead about something that plods along pointlessly and has close to zero redeeming qualities. That's the sort of movie that this is. It's all about a motel receptionist (Parker) in the sleepy town of Suspicious River (how profound!). The town is kind of a Purgatory, where visitors to the motel come and go but the townspeople live perpetually in a gray state of monosyllabic relationships. To help pass the time, our receptionist Leila gives off-screen blowjobs to the men who populate the desolate place for a cool $60. Little do the men know, Leila is the one getting the most out of the bargain because she gets the opportunity to paint herself as some sort of tortured artistic soul in her bland narration. From what I've read about the film online, we're supposed to interpret Leila's actions as the self-destructive ends of a life full of despair. When more of her backstory is revealed late in the movie, I guess it's supposed to come across as a revelation that helps inform this woman's actions previously, but it actually comes across as little more than a lame twist (and one that was easy to foresee, at that). Instead of a disturbed and poetic person, Leila comes across as just totally obnoxious - perhaps mostly because of Parker's tendency to deliver every single line with a thoughtful pause and a smug smirk. There is a point in the film where a guest at the motel takes advantage of Leila's hospitality, beating her and ultimately raping her. It's not enough to drive any sense of pity for the character; instead she just becomes one of the most obnoxious rape victims in cinema history. Maybe it really is just Parker who ruins the movie - she was equally grating in her role as the man-hating Sister Rose in <i>The Wicker Man</i>. At least in that movie, her ever present self-satisfaction made some sense, as she was possibly in on some elaborate scheme to drive the audience mad with confusion. Here, it's to no particular end. But then, the other characters - such as Leila's ineffectual husband and her one-dimensional best friend - are little more than shadows who drop into the picture occasionally for no particular reason. The strongest presence in the film is Callum Keith Rennie, who plays the dashing and dangerous Gary Jensen - the man for whom Leila falls madly in submission to. But having the most commanding performance in <i>Suspicious River</i> is hardly a thing to be proud of; his performance would hardly warrant a mention anywhere else, and when compared to, say, Dennis Hopper in <i>Blue Velvet</i>, it almost feels like a joke. The movie wants to be a tense thriller with a philosophical edge to it, but instead ends up as the limp, flailing work of an amateur. It's the kind of movie that helps you understand why there are those who say the phrase <i>independent film</i> with a sneer. Like the town that the movie takes place in, <i>Suspicious River</i> is colorless and dull and not a place anybody would have any reason to stay. Rated 1 out of 5 stars 01/15/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

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      Critics Reviews

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      Empire Magazine Rated: 2/5 Dec 30, 2006 Full Review Toronto Star Rated: 2/4 Apr 16, 2002 Full Review Globe and Mail Rated: 2/4 Apr 16, 2002 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews Edging more towards softcore porn than art. Rated: C Nov 18, 2004 Full Review Christopher Null Filmcritic.com You'll have trouble tracking down a more unwatchable movie this year Rated: 1/5 Nov 7, 2004 Full Review Jon Popick Planet S Magazine Another uniquely dazzling performance from Parker, in another unnerving tale from Stopkewich. Rated: 6/10 Mar 13, 2003 Full Review Read all reviews

      Movie Info

      Synopsis A married woman (Molly Parker) who turns tricks in a hotel becomes drawn to a psychotic (Callum Keith Rennie) brute.
      Director
      Lynne Stopkewich
      Executive Producer
      Harnish McAlpine, Erik Stensrud
      Screenwriter
      Lynne Stopkewich, Laura Kasischke
      Distributor
      Sagittaire Films, Motion International [ca], Beyond Films, Key Films Distributors Ltd., Alta Classics S.L. Unipersonal
      Production Co
      Okulitch-Pederson Company [ca], Suspicious Films
      Rating
      R (Language|Strong Sexual Content|Sexual Violence)
      Genre
      Drama
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Sep 9, 2000, Wide
      Release Date (DVD)
      Oct 31, 2014
      Sound Mix
      Dolby Digital
      Aspect Ratio
      Flat (1.37:1)