Alpha Male (15)

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The ViewNewcastle Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/08/2006

One out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Frequently tedious, badly directed and occasionally infuriating drama that fails because it's impossible to care about the main characters.

What's it all about?
Flashing back and forth between past and present, the film stars Danny Huston and Jennifer Ehle as Jim and Alice Ferris, an upper class couple who are happily raising their two children Jack and Elyssa (Arthur Duncan and Katie Knight) in the surroundings of their huge mansion.

When Jim dies of a sudden illness, the children are devastated and Elyssa nurses a deep-seated grudge against Alice's sister Brede (producer Trudi Styler), who moves in to help.

Things don't improve when Alice gets remarried, to nice-guy widower Clive (Patrick Baladi), which causes an irreparable rift with Jack. Several years later, Jack (now played by Mark Wells) is persuaded to return for his 21st birthday and the various conflicts bubble to the surface once again.

The Bad
The film's biggest flaw is that it's impossible to care about the main characters, particularly Jack, whose problems could basically be cured with the administering of a good slap.

Similarly, Elyssa's problems stem from a misunderstanding, which is much less dramatically interesting in that it renders a central character simple and perfect rather than complex and flawed.

The Worst
Alpha Male is writer-director Dan Wilde's first feature and, unfortunately, it shows. For one thing the script has an uncomfortable air of autobiography about it and for another he makes staggeringly inept directorial decisions throughout, such as having characters stare off meaningfully into space for minutes at a time.

The performances are a mixed bag. Huston, Baladi, Ehle and Amelia Warner (as the grown-up Elyssa) do the best they can with the dire script, but Mark Wells is too smug and slappable to make Jack sympathetic whilst Jemma Powell (as his girlfriend Malika) is a shockingly bad actress saddled with a badly written character.

Worth seeing?
A poorly directed drama with unconvincing characters. Avoid.

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Content updated: 12/05/2012 09:42

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