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Fragments

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Unpredicted Terror, Unexpected Consequences

    FRAGMENTS (AKA Winged Creatures) is an uncomfortable movie: the subject matter of spontaneous unsuspected violence and the subsequent impact on the lives of those who survive a near death situation is terrifying. FRAGMENTS takes a moment in time and then reveals how that moment alters the psyche and behavior of numerous people from children to adults. It is disconcerting to watch, but at the same time it makes us face the possibilities of how isolated cracks in the universe can alter our lives. As the tagline suggests 'You have to lose your way to find it.'

    The film opens with a day in a Los Angeles diner where a gunman enters and randomly opens fire on the customers at the tables and the staff serving them and then kills himself. We are forced to watch this happen but through the eyes of the people attempting to dodge the attack. Among these are a waitress (Kate Beckinsale), a man seated at the counter being denied attention as he glances at his new brochures on dealing with cancer (Forest Whitaker), a doctor (Guy Pearce), a young girl (Dakota Fanning) who witnesses the murder of her father, a young boy (Josh Hutcherson) whose terror results in his becoming mute, among others. The film then abruptly clips to the fragments that remain - the lives as being lived by the survivors as well as their families - a cast of brilliant cameos by Jeanne Tripplehorn, Jackie Earle Haley, Robin Weigert, Jennifer Hudson and Embeth Davidtz. While none of the characters seem to be people about whom we would care under normal circumstances, the fact that the writer and director (Roy Freier and Rowan Woods) have placed us in the midst of the initial incident allows us to watch the strange transformations that happen to these people as a result of being struck by post traumatic stress - maladaptive behavior toward spouses and children, hiding behind becoming an instant religious zealot, gambling as a disease, and the other splinters the impact of murder and suicide observed at close range can cause. Very little is resolved by film's end but the film does force us to witness something that could happen to any of us and make us re-evaluate our values and abilities to cope with trauma. This is an ensemble cast film, strongly projected, and if the producers and creators of the film merely allowed us more time to get to know each character better the film probably would have been a success in the theaters instead of going straight to DVD. A provocative work.

    Grady Harp

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