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Sacrifice (Movie Review)

Sacrifice (Movie Review)From IFC Midnight comes Sacrifice starring Radha Mitchell as Tora Hamilton a Consultant Surgeon who, along with her husband Duncan Guthrie (Rupert Graves), has moved to the remote Shetland Islands.  There they plan to adopt their first child as they have been unable to naturally conceive.  Since her husband grew up on these Scottish islands they’re hoping that, along with the help of Duncan’s father and his significant local influence, that they’ll have more success in being approved for adoption.  Everything seems to be going as planned until Tora makes a shocking discovery about the town and it’s locals.

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Film
Sacrifice starts off a little shaky in that it seems to be trying to get you up to speed with what’s going on as soon as possible.  The problem is you’ve only JUST laid eyes on the main character before we’re supposed to be worried about her medical condition.  Now, the idea of a doctor needing medical attention themself is pretty compelling, but we’re abruptly swept away from that scene to foreign country before we can take a breath.  The entire mood jumps from frantic desperation, to calm and serene optimism within the blink of an eye!
Sacrifice (Movie Review)

This movie kinda plays out like a thirty minute episode of the X-Files in that they need to provide as much information as possible within a short amount of time.  The thing is is that there’s plenty of time to allow the viewer to settle into the relationships of the characters so that we have some sort of connection to them when something happens.  But the film is in such a rush to get to the next big reveal that the audience feels more like bystanders witnessing something from afar.  During the first act there a many little Easter eggs being planted that will later be readdressed later in the film.  This is a perfectly fine thing to do, if it’s done subtlety.  But unfortunately they’re presented in such an obvious and predicable manner that every time it happens I felt like they should’ve thrown in some menacing music like, “BUM, Bum, bum!” to give it that much more over-the-top gravitas.

Sacrifice (Movie Review)

But I can say unequivocally that Radha Mitchell’s performance is a solid anchor that keeps this ship from floating off into the abyss.  Every time the camera moves onto her, the film somehow elevates itself to a new level that allows you to settle in and immerse yourself into it.  However, the level of determination that Mitchell’s character Tora displays in solving a peculiar crime scene is a bit odd.  She doesn’t really have any long standing bonds to the land or the people who live there, so aside from the fact that she experienced a traumatic event earlier in the film, there isn’t much justification for her tenacity other than it moves the plot along.  Perhaps if her family had some historical connection to some of the clues that are unearthed it would give a stronger motivation for her commitment.  But as it stands, it comes across as she’s just a stranger in a strange land being nosy for no apparent reason.

In addition to Mitchell’s performance there are few moments where you become genuinely intrigued with the story. But then they start dropping all those clues that are so painfully transparent, that things start slow way down.  This occurs the most midway through the film when Tora starts to close in on the mystery at hand.  The supporting cast give exceptionally strong performances that also serve to maintain the stability of a weak script and dialogue.  It’s difficult to talk about this movie without spoiling the premise as it’s fairly straight forward and relies heavily on it’s BIG reveals to keep the audience interested.  But like I said earlier, the film never really takes the time to EARN the emotionally dramatic scenes that they put forth.  So when something bad happens you’re kinda just left with a feeling of “Well, that was unfortunate” as opposed to “Oh my go, I can’t believe that happened!”.
Sacrifice (Movie Review)
Summary
I was really hoping that once we reached the climax at the end of the film that there would be this big shocking shift in direction that would throw me for a loop.  But alas, it ends pretty much as you suspect it would.  I really feel like this is something of a missed opportunity.  With such a wide array of acting talent, this could’ve have easily been turned into an intense dramatic thriller.  But with the script and dialogue as it is, everything becomes more of a daytime made-for-TV soap opera.

Sacrifice arrives in theaters and Digital On Demand April 29th!

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Writer, Musician, Composer, Singer and Dancer. To sum up: I like to get jiggy with it!

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