Moderator / Reviewer
- Apr 4, 2017
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I’m going to admit right off the bat that I didn’t even pay attention to Strange But True even when I got the press release. I saw the title, skimmed the description, and said to myself “could be interesting” and then asked to review it. I didn’t even watch the trailer myself, so I went in about as virgin as one could be to a situation like this. I originally thought that this was most likely going to be a religious film based upon the premise of a young girl claiming that she’s pregnant with her dead boyfriend’s baby of 5 years ago, but then I was completely floored by the 3rd act twist. A twist that changes things up dramatically and turns it towards a direction I was NOT expecting. The movie itself is based upon an acclaimed novel by John Searles, and while I haven’t read the book (obviously), the movie itself is a bit turgid and slow, ending with me sitting there saying to myself “ok, is that it?”.
A family is getting over the grief of a lost family member when they get an unexpected surprise. The girlfriend of their brother/son Ronnie (Conner Jessup) comes to them with an announcement. She’s pregnant with Ronnie’s child and expecting soon. The thing is, Ronnie died FIVE years ago! Naturally other Charlene (Amy Ryan) takes Melissa’s (Margaret Qualley) dubious claims with huge suspicion. Ronnie’s brother Phillip (Nick Robinson) is a bit more sympathetic to the young girl, but still doesn’t exactly believe her. The bitter, and still grieving, Charlene quickly goes to find out what could have happened, employing the help of her ex husband Richard (Greg Kinnear) into her suspicious digging. While they both would LIKE to believe that there is a miracle of God going on, the sheer logic of immaculate conception is mind boggling.
Both Charlene and Phillip are adamant about getting answers, but the more they press, the more Phillip believes that Melissa is telling the truth. At least that she BELIEVES that this is Ronnie’s child, no matter how inconceivable as that may be. As the mother and son slowly inch their way to the truth, they accidentally stumble upon a web of lies and deceit that completely upends the entire situation, putting them right into the middle of a dangerous cover up that the perpetrator will do ANYTHING to keep quiet.
The story is a bit thin, and the twists and turns more than a bit weak, and while I’ve been told (and read) that the novel is very intense, the drama here is almost nonexistent. Until the very end the tension is that of a religious miracle movie, as people are just trying to come to grips with the reality of Melissa maybe carrying their dead son’s child. Even veteran actors like Brian Cox and Blythe Danner do their best, but are sadly just hamstrung by the weak script. Everyone involved is a top notch (or at least decent) actor, but when you’re just told to go from point A to point B with as little panache as possible, it makes it hard to really engage your audience.
Rated R for violence, sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Strange But True is a reasonably competent thriller, but that’s about the extent of it’s accolades. It’s competent, but doesn’t really stretch itself into something meaningful or engaging. The characters are all very typical, but director Rowan Athale does very little to get the audience to actually invest in the people on screen. At best you’re ambivalent to their actions, and when the “twist” and surprise ending shows up, it’s really not that impactful. The Blu-ray itself is rather solid, with good video, good audio, but next to no extras. While I may not have thoroughly enjoyed the thriller, it does work well enough as a low grade rental.
Starring: Nick Robinson, Amy Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Brian Cox, Margaret Qualley, Blythe Danner, Mena Massoud
Directed by: Rowan Athale
Written by: Eric Garcia (Screenplay), John Searles (Based on the Novel By)
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Runtime: 96 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: October 22nd, 2019
Recommendation: Low Rental