Exposed movie review: cover it up, burn it, bury it, never look at it again

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Exposed red light

To call it disjointed is an understatement: Exposed is unintelligible. It feels like two completely different movies inelegantly Frankensteined together.
I’m “biast” (pro): like Keanu Reeves

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Late one night, in a nearly deserted New York City subway station, Isabel (Ana de Armas) has a mysterious encounter with a luminous being who floats over the tracks, a creature the very religious woman takes to be an angel. The next morning, a cop is found brutally murdered on that very same spot at the station, and his partner, NYPD detective Galban (Keanu Reeves: John Wick, 47 Ronin), takes up the investigation. Isabel’s life unfolds from here as a sort of dreamy, magic-realism domestic drama: she lives with her in-laws while her soldier husband is deployed in Iraq, works as a teacher of young children (including one who seems especially troubled in her home life), and continues having visions of otherworldy beings. Galban’s life is like an unintentional parody of a gritty cop thriller, complete with a lieutenant (Christopher McDonald: Believe Me, An American Carol) who warns him away from looking too closely at what his dead partner was up to, and the partner’s widow (Mira Sovino: Do You Believe?, Reservation Road) drawing him into what will be the most embarrassingly terrible seduction scene ever committed to celluloid.

To call it all disjointed is an understatement of vast proportions: Exposed is unintelligible. It feels like two completely different movies inelegantly Frankensteined together… which is almost the literal truth: this was originally a film called Daughter of God (which makes more sense than Exposed, which has nothing to do with what happens onscreen), but Lionsgate completely re-edited it to reduce Isabel’s story and plump up Galban’s to such a degree that director Gee Malik Linton took his name off it (though he still gets a screenplay credit). I suspect even more was done: someone had to have shot new footage for what ended up as the final version of the movie, because the two sides of the film feel so completely different.

It gets worse. A plot that feels incoherently random suddenly turns actively offensive by the end, when, in wrapping together these two story threads that appear so much at odds, it trivializes horrible crimes and turns the methods that people use to cope with them into the stuff of cheap suspense. The massively insulting miscalculation that is this film is encapsulated in the taglines that have been used in its marketing: “Some secrets are better left buried” in the U.S., and “Some cases are better left unsolved” in the U.K. But what is going on in this story is the very opposite of that: it is absolutely about things that must be brought into the light of day. If it is about anything at all, it is about evils that thrive because people keep them buried.

Not that the movie itself seems to realize that it might have any such notion at its heart. It doesn’t seem to have much of much of anything to say at all. And it is saying nothing in the most appalling ways imaginable.

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Fri, Feb 26, 2016 6:35pm

Actually, it was Linton himself who shot reshoots and/or additional scenes, in January last year (one month after the official wrap-up). Doesn’t seem to have helped much. The movie has a few good scenes – but overall is just a disjointed mess.

Fri, Feb 26, 2016 9:16pm

Petition Lionsgate to release the director’s cut – significantly better and complete film.

Stacy Livitsanis
Stacy Livitsanis
Sun, Aug 16, 2020 4:03pm

I just tried to watch this, after having loved Ana De Armas in Knives Out, and the title of this review is all that need be said. If anyone wants to see Ana and Keanu in a film together, they’d be much better off watching Elli Roth’s Knock Knock. Yes, an Eli Roth film is vastly preferable to this.