In Tri-Stars new thriller, Premonition, Sandra Bullock stars as Linda Hanson, a mild-mannered housewife and mother whose world crumbles when she learns that her husband, Jim (Julian McMahon), has died in a horrible car accident while on a business trip. That is, until she wakes up the next morning to discover him eating breakfast before work.
Confused, she realizes it is days before Jims trip and that it all must have been a horrible dream. That is, until she wakes up the next morning to find her house full of grieving family and friends ready to take her to Jims funeral.
What follows is a topsy-turvy, time-shifting story that has Linda bouncing around within the week of Jims death. An experience that ends up enlightening her on the truth behind her marriage and faith she long ago lost.
Working from a script by Billy Kelly, whose last great hit was 1999s Blast from the Past, director Mennan Yapo shoots Premonition with a jerky style reflective of the story. Much like Linda, who, somehow, repetitively bounces around in time like a quantum Mexican jumping bean, Yapos visual narrative is rife with meandering establishing shots, alternate angles and jarring close-ups that keep you from ever feeling grounded to the film.
The bulk of the films problem is its reliance on the Groundhog Day gimmick of Linda waking up each morning to a different day. It is not a hard concept to understand, especially if you have seen the films television and theatrical trailers, but Kelly and Yapo take forever in setting it up. And for little effect, too.
An otherwise straightforward dramatic story is twisted into the pop culture fad of non-linear storytelling (Babel being the previous, most recent offender). Instead of story, we get obtuse time shifts that reek of story manipulation.
Paradoxes caused by Lindas actions only make things worse. Too much in the film makes too little sense, snowballing confusion into persistent disinterest. Klaus Badelts soundtrack tries to compensate for much of this. But this overblown orchestration only serves to make things worse. A boisterous and clunky Band-aid put in place, as if to say, this scene is supposed to be tense and suspenseful, react here!
As the story hurdles to its inevitable conclusion, Bullock manages to slip a few gentle moments past Yapos pedestrian directing to give Linda some character depth. McMahan follows suit and is at times able to nicely shed his Nip/Tuck playboy typecast and delve into the mysteries of an average schlub husband lost in the everyday pressures of life.
But it is mostly all in vain because neither performance is able to transcend the films reliance on a stale gimmick. It is a shame, too, since, at its heart, Premonition is a tender story about love and faith. Paradoxically confusing, yes, but still nevertheless sweet.
On a fun side note, Premonition features a sly reference to another Bullock film. At one point, Linda considers buying a lake house, thinking it might be a good way to start over. Last year, Bullock stared in a film called The Lake House, a vastly superior, similarly themed time-shifting romance where the lead characters gravitate toward a lake house in order to start their lives over; oddly enough, it also featured a Nip/Tuck lead: Dylan Walsh.
Makes me wonder if perhaps Bullock was experiencing Lake House deja vu when she agreed to this bad Premonition.