Review by James Lindorf
Between Worlds stars, Nicolas Cage as Joe, a struggling truck driver haunted by the memory of his deceased wife and daughter. Joe is drowning in alcohol and guilt when his life takes a dramatic turn after he rescues Julia (Franka Potente), a woman with mysterious spiritual powers. A motorcycle accident has left Julia’s daughter, Billie, in a coma, and Julia enlists Joe’s help to stop Billie from crossing over to the spirit world. Her plan to wake up Billie seems to go off without a hitch, except it wasn’t Billie that came back. Between Worlds, the latest from Writer/Director Maria Pulera (Falsely Accused) will be available on demand December 18th and in theaters in multiple cities across the country on the 21st.
Pulera took a traditional horror movie concept of a near-death experience leading to possession and blended it with the Leonardo DiCaprio movie Shutter Island. Julia almost drowned as a child when she and a friend fell through thin ice, and now, she is able to commune with the other side, albeit under extreme circumstances, but she is willing to do anything to save Billie. Joe is holding on to his truck, which is his livelihood, by the thinnest of threads. He is a borderline alcoholic, staying just sober enough to drive, but is a good man at his core. His guilt over not being home when his wife and daughter died is why he rescues Julia in the first place and stays to support her during this crisis with her own daughter.
Unfortunately, after the interesting concept, things begin going downhill. Early on in the film, the weirdness is confined to the shooting angles that are overly artistic, like she was testing an idea rather than doing just what was needed for the scene. Once the surprise of who now inhabits Billie’s body is revealed, the story and Cage’s acting go off the rails. While Cage wasn’t at his best in the first half of the film, he was fine, and he did give me a good laugh when he slipped into his Cameron Poe accent from Con Air for a scene. The absurdity culminates in a bizarre, otherworldly sex scene that takes place simultaneously in two dimensions, planes of existences, or maybe in the past and present, that has Joe while reading a book entitled, “Memories by Nicholas Cage,” mid-coitus.
Franka Potenta (Bourne Identity) is the best part of the film and fully commits to her character, Julia. She stays on track and never turns it up to 11 like Cage. She is believable as a distraught mother who is slowly falling for the new man in her life until credits roll. Between Worlds has some promising elements, and may fall into the “it’s so bad it’s good” category for some of Nic Cage’s most ardent fans, but for everyone else, it will just be an exercise in frustration as a decent film dissolves into nonsense.