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Three stories of human treachery are given an unexpected link in this dry comedy drama from Icelandic filmmaker Baltasar Kormákur. Holt (Forest Whitaker) is an insurance investigator who is sent to Minnesota to look into a bus accident; the bus seems to have had significantly more passengers after it crashed than it had when it left the station, and Holt, posing as a police detective, needs to know who is telling the truth and who is attempting to cash in on the tragedy. Later, Holt is back on the job, when a badly burned body is found in a wrecked car, and the ID on the corpse indicates the victim was a small-time con artist with a police record. The victim's sister, Isold (Julia Stiles), claims that her brother's accident happened after his gas tank was drained and he was struggling to make his way home on a stormy night, but Holt isn't buying it; and Isold's husband, Fred (Jeremy Renner), and son, Thor (Alfred Harmsworth), don't seem especially trustworthy. Finally, a man and a woman struggle to make their way to shore after their car sails off a cliff into a body of water. While they seem grateful to make it back to dry land, it seems the woman has reason to be unhappy with her mate when she viciously attacks him. Who are these people, and what is their story? A Little Trip to Heaven received its North American premier at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
Cast: Maria Fernandez Ache, Karl Anton Leigh, Peter Coyote, Forest Whitaker, Juan Carlos Pardo Pardo, Damon Younger, Jeremy Renner, Joanna Scanlan, Julia Stiles, Alfred Harmsworth, Philip Jackson, Anne Reid, Phyllida Law
Director: Baltasar Kormákur
Summary: When a claim is sought on the million-dollar life insurance policy of notorious con artist Kelvin Anderson, crack investigator Holt is assigned to uncover the truth in Baltasar Kormakur crime noir. Holt (Forest Whitaker) suspects deceit from the get-go, and he stealthily tries to uncover the truth from Kelvin's sister Isold (Julia Stiles) and her erratic husband, Fred (Jeremy Renner).
My Thoughts: "The movie wasn't very good. I mean it was a decent suspense film, just not very interesting. I thought the brother and sister scamming was more interesting then the insurance fraud. The acting by Julia was good, Whitaker's Irish accent through me off. I am not sure if it was good or ridiculous, or why he needed the accent in the first place. I'm leaning more towards ridiculous. I did enjoy the look of the film. The scenery and the depressing gloom of it. Especially that great creepy house. But besides those things, the film was a sleeper for me."
The crash scene at the end of this movie is in itself worth watching, best stunt I have ever seen. The film is about the best suspense film I have seen in some time. Forest Whitaker keeps popping up in these unheard of films. Julia Stiles plays the abused female and does a excellent job of it. Child Actor Alfred Harnsworth reached the top of the peak in this one. It will keep you on the very edge of your seat, you will not get up or walk away from this one. 4 Stars reaching for 5
This movie is great visually as a noir thriller but fails pretty much in every other department. The Midwest looks like a foreign land (not surprisingly since it was filmed in Iceland) but that's not the biggest problem. The story is clumsy, lacking logic and plausibility, the "plot twist" is given away early on so it doesn't even work as a suspense thriller, and the ending is ridiculously corny. A decent noir thriller was lost somewhere on its way to the screen.
In Short: A brother-and-sister team attempt to swindle a life insurance company by faking the brother?s death, but a skeptical insurance agent digs deeper into the case and ends up getting personally involved in the web of deceit.
We first meet insurance investigator ('adjustor') Abe Holt as he listens to his boss Frank (Peter Coyote) explain to a new widow why she will not receive full death benefits because the insurance company took photos of her husband smoking, the apparent cause of his death. Abe just sits in the background but we know he is in tune with the fraudulent activity of the insurance company. Almost immediately he is assigned to a new case: an ex-con with a million dollar life insurance policy has apparently been found dead in a car crash burned beyond recognition. Abe drives to the tiny snowy desolate village where his questions of the townsfolk reveal that the victim was Kelvin Anderson, the brother of Isold (Julia Stiles) who is married to a low life type named Fred (Jeremy Renner), a man who we have seen in flashbacks as the one responsible for arranging the car crash and setting the car on fire. Abe sneaks around the town, spies on Isold, and becomes involved in the investigation in more ways than the honest one. It is the interplay of the three - Abe, Fred, and Isold - that provide the intrigue and mystery of the apparent framed insurance scam. a modern film noir with an excellent cast, a beautiful soundtrack and atmospheric sequences in the rain or snow. Maybe the tone is a bit too sad and nihilistic for the big crowd.
The premise of this film was what originally got me interested in seeing this one. It started out quite slow and I found it hard to get into the movie until half way, when things started picking up just a tad bit. I got pretty interesting at that point but it was a bit too late for me to really fully enjoy the movie!
Decent flick with an interesting performance from Whitaker. Can't quite put my finger on that accent. Is it Scottish Minnesotan? Fascinating.
And pretty much anything with Stiles in it I like. She's nothing special, I just like her. The story kept my interest but wasn't especially compelling or captivating. Nothing you need to rush out and see, but may be worth it if you can't find anything else.