Extraordinary

Cover of "Rendition"

Last night we watched Rendition. I warn you there will be some spoilers in this post, but then the film is five years old, so you’ve either seen it, or you’re not bothered about seeing it, in which case you won’t mind the spoilers. To be honest, we weren’t really bothered about it either, but we recorded it and decided it was about time we started watching some of this stuff we recorded.

I defected to Free last year when we moved. I admit it was a bit of a difficult choice for me to make as for some reason for the last twelve years, I’ve been a France Telecom customer. I stuck with them under the mistaken belief that they were the only phone company that offered customer service. Others deserted France Telecom and came back with horror stories of days, weeks and months spent trying to contact a human when a problem occurred, whereas there was absolutely no problem getting hold of someone at France Telecom. No, the only problem was that no one knew what the hell they were doing. Once my phone line was cut off for six weeks before I finally came across someone who knew what I had to do and I got my line back and discovered it was Free who had stolen my line. Despite this, I still stuck with them even though they were more expensive than anyone else and their TV service was absolute pants. So finally, the Frog took charge and we’ve now got a sexy sleek Philip Stark Freebox with blu ray DVD (not that we use it) and a hard drive that means we can record MILLIONS of programmes. I’m also rather partial to the pausing live TV function, because since the state channels stopped adverts after 8pm, sometimes an episode is a little long when you’re dying to go to the loo.

Anyway Rendition. We recorded it a few months ago and it’s got a star cast: Meryl Streep, Jake Gyllenhaal, Reese Witherspoon and Alan Arkin. It’s even got a pretty good story line: after a terrorist act in a ‘North African’ country, an egyptian man living in the US is mistakenly believed to be involved and is rendered to said ‘North African’ country. There are some touching moments, you get into the characters and everything but. I went and looked at some different reviews of the film because I always like to have my opinion validated. The Guardian loved the film, Rotten Tomatoes, well you can guess what they said, right? And then there was the New York Times, in my opinion the most valid review because they agree with me.

At the end of the film where we should have been cheering old Jake for finally developing some balls, both the Frog and I were scratching our heads and going what? Now, I confess that I was uploading photos at the same time as watching the film, plus it was in French, so at first I thought I hadn’t paid enough attention, but the Frog was muttering too. We conferred and no, neither of us had caught on that one of the storylines was on a different time line to the others.

Now look, I’m not a scriptwriter, but surely in some ways the same rules apply. If as a writer you write something that makes the reader stop and think about it that’s bad. Surely, if two people stop and discuss the denouement of the film while it is still happening that is bad. How did this get on to the screen? I can’t believe that all these film people sat around a table and thought: I know one of the sub plots will actually be a flashback, but… here’s the clever bit… we won’t let the viewers know till the end. Clever right? No, it’s not clever because while Gyllenhaal was freeing the prisoner, we were discussing what happened? Did it really happen? Did you know it was a flashback? No? Neither did I.

So, Gavin Hood, just in case you were wondering: I do not approve.

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