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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Premonition (review)

Deja Vu All Over Again

You know those “In a world where…” movie trailers? Well, Premonition’s would start out: “In a world where no one has ever seen Groundhog Day…” It’s not that unusual that characters in a film seem to be unaware of pop culture — no one in movies seems to spend any time engaging in that great American pastime of watching TV — but Premonition does that one better: it assumes the audience has never seen Groundhog Day, or any of the myriad other similarly themed explorations of this precise idea.
This may be a kind of self-defense mechanism: I would bet good money that this was a rejected concept for an episode of Medium — one of the best shows on TV at the moment, about a woman who juggles work, family, and being a psychic who dreams of violent crimes and tries to stop them and/or solve them after the fact — and so everyone involved in producing Premonition may be engaging in wishful thinking. “Maybe,” they’re hoping, pretty please, fingers crossed, “if we pretend hard enough, and aim our little movie at people who don’t go to movies and don’t watch TV, no one will notice how desperately unoriginal all of this is.”

Aiming a movie at people who don’t consume media seems like a chancy proposition, but what do I know? Or maybe it’s that Sandra Bullock fans aren’t the pickiest lot to start with, so they won’t care that they could see this all done way better every week for free at home, even if it meant having to watch Patricia Arquette instead.

What happens is this: Sandra (Infamous, Crash), an intensely retro housewife who has nothing in her life but her husband, kids, the laundry, and dusting, gets word that said hubby has been killed in a car wreck while on a business trip. And the shock of that news so discombobulates her that she becomes disconnected in time and spontaneously finds herself hopping around the week of his death, living it out of sequence: you know, she awakens one day and it’s Wednesday, then the next day it’s the previous Sunday, then the next is the following Friday, and so on.

Actually, that’s probably giving this intensely preposterous flick more credit than it deserves — it does not appear to have awareness of any psychology more complex than that of a greeting card. (“Every day we’re alive can be a miracle,” one character actually says.) There’s very little complex about Premonition, in fact: forget movies and TV, no one here seems to have ever heard of the concept of ESP before, either. So more than half the interminable running time — 97 minutes that feels like three hours — is spent with Sandra completely unaware of the fact that something supernatural might be at work, that she’s having visions of the future and might be able to change things. The audience — most of us, anyway — are so far ahead of her in figuring out what the heck is going on that she never catches up to us. But the movie is relentless in its cluelessness, in assuming that it exists in a pop-culture vacuum, and while we’re waiting for Sandra to finally figure out the very, very obvious, the script, by Bill Kelly, so overexplains everything about this “new” time-travel/ESP idea that it digs itself into holes it can never get out of. Do the events that Sandra experiences happen according to her out-of-order sense of time, or are they happening according on an ordinary schedule? If Sandra does something on Thursday and then, on her “next” day, three days earlier, does something that alters the future, will it still be in play when she eventually arrives at Friday? Or does the first version of Thursday count? Premonition hasn’t even considered itself this shallowly, and has no answer for itself, or for us, and tries to have it both ways: Yes, of course people remember Thursday on Friday; no, wait, they don’t.

If I could wake up tomorrow and find it’s the day before I wasted a precious miracle day on Premonition, I’d do everything I could to stop myself making the same mistake twice.

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MPAA: rated PG-13 for some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb
  • kay dee

    i haven’t seen the movie, but find it hard to reed a review that has sentence constructs that i cannot comprehind: “and so everyone involved may be producing Premonition is engaging in wishful thinking. ”

    so far, i have only read two of the filosofer’s reviews, and perhaps it is her inablity to spell that reders her incapable of proofreding her writing?

    this is not the only review with such blaring erors. if you are going to be a critic, start by criticing own work. it is far less cumbersome to get a film revue rite than ti is to get a film rite.

  • MaryAnn

    You’re right, Kay Dee: that phrasing was in error, and I’ve fixed it now. Thanks for pointing it out. Anyone who both writes and edits — including someone like me, who is also a respected and experienced editor and copy editor — knows that proofreading your own work is actually much harder than proofreading other people’s work: your brain glides over errors because it knows what is supposed to be there.

    That said, my error was not one of spelling but of tense and grammar. You might want to read more than two of my thousand-plus reviews, however, before you determine what my spelling and/or grammar skills may be — and at least you should read more than two before saying things like “this is not the only review with such blaring [sic] errors.” I fail to understand why you felt it was so necessary to be nasty in pointing our my error. Certainly, you are free to move on to another film-review web site if you’re not happy here.

  • Carl

    I am firmly in support of Kay. This review is about as incoherent as the film itself. Its not just the poor grammar, its the general writing style. Just reading it gave me a headache. Having read this one, I’m not sure I want to see the other 1000.

  • MaryAnn

    No, Carl, you don’t.

  • Rayvin

    Wow. People just get a kick out of being nasty. The first post was evidently incendiary and ill-humoured and the cavalry was staunchly surly. Sandra Bullock is cool but as all, she is allowed to make mistakes…as well as the producers of such a trite and over-played concept. I haven’t seen the movie, yet the notion this review puts forth conjure pretty much the sentiments I was left with from the synopsis. Anyway, Kay and Carl are lame. That’s pretty much the point I’m making. For the record, should there even be one, I don’t feel as though I’m riding to MaryAnn’s defense, as I’m sure her arsenal is well stocked and she can defend herself. Of the myriad or purposes behind these words, what intend most to project is: critics criticize, that’s what we read them for, that’s what we love them for, and that’s what we hate them for; Hollywood makes movies, that’s why we give them our money, we pay for the right to complain, that’s why…you know..who cares…

  • john

    the movie has made money…go to IMDB and read the user reviews…they are far more interpretive and imaginative than your scathing review! But then again, you write reviews on line, clearly, your no poster child for intelligence (clearly!) In fact, your review isn’t a review, is a bashing, which is why you fairly opend the door for people to bash you…the truth is, you didn’t get the movie…me and my friends loved it, and when we read a review like yours, it tells us it’s a good thing you only write reviews on line rather than something that actually matters!

  • MaryAnn

    the movie has made money

    I invite you to look up a certain quote from P.T. Barnum, John, the one about no one going broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public. Financial success is no measure of anything except financial success.

    Oh, and John: the people who post reviews at IMDB are writing online, too, so if you’re looking for a reason to condemn me, you’ll have to try harder — you can’t have it both ways, condemning mine for being online but praising IMDB reviews.

    And anyway, plenty of my reviews appear in print, as well, as this one did. I don’t think that makes any particular example of writing any less or more worthy, but apparently you do. So again, please be more creative and imaginative in your insults, or at least logical.

    I’ll refrain from any commentary about poster children for intelligence.

  • drrks

    We don’t read reviews of movies for their grammatical or literary excellence. We read them for content which I think is pretty clear. MaryAnn is entitled to hers and we readers came to this site to read her view. I go to many sites to read different point of views and then decide whether I want to see the movie or not. We might disagree with her but that should not be a reason to be nasty.

  • Lee

    Reading these posts is more entertaining then watching the movie.

  • amanohyo

    I know, the psots are scary, mysterious, and entertaining, everything the movie was trying to be! I expect the grammar gestapo to show up at reviews of highly rated movies, but Premonition?!! It was panned by just about everybody. Is it possible that somewhere out there, an organized team of Sandra fans has carefully proofread all the negative reviews out there? It would take days!!

    I must know more about this secret society of Bullock Grammarians. How many members are there? Where do they meet? Who is their leader? How do I join?

  • “I invite you to look up a certain quote from P.T. Barnum, John, the one about no one going broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

    That was H. L. Mencken, not P. T. Barnum. Sorry to be an ass, but I’m a huge Mencken fan, so I couldn’t let that one slide.

  • Michael

    Everyone, just back off. Spelling is spelling, but does it really matter? MaryAnn wrote a good review BECAUSE it gave me exactly what I was looking for, a detailed opinion about a recent movie.

    Cheers for taking the time to write out the review MaryAnn.

  • Brian

    This is probably the most self pretentious review… scratch that… article of any sort that I have ever read. please do everyone a favour and stop regarding yourself in such high esteem. Your assumptions are unwarranted and your piss poor review is even worse, as impossible as that may seem. As the “flickfilospher,” as egregious as that self imposed title may be, you owe it to everyone to not make silly claims like,”[Bullock is]an intensely retro housewife who has nothing in her life but her husband, kids, the laundry, and dusting.” None of this is actually said nor implied, and as a reviewer you owe it to your readers not to inflict your stereotypes and prejudices against society in your reviews. I am not making a personal attack, nor am I trying to degrade you in anyway. You claim to be a film reviewer, please write like you are one. A challenge to become a better writer should not offend you, you should only take note.

  • MaryAnn

    Brian, if you would care to qualify any of your claims — like “[y]our assumptions are unwarranted” — with, say, some evidence from the film, I would be happy to address them.

  • What the hell does “self pretentious” mean, anyway? (Answer: nothing)

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