Steven Bernstein’s so-so, but well intentioned film “Decoding Annie Parker” spans the life of the titular character Annie Parker (Samantha Morton), a irrepressible woman and the doctor who almost discovered the cure for cancer. The issue with this film is this topic is so inspired and fascinating, but none of the themes that come with the territory are fully explored.
Director Bernstein has a lengthy resume as a cinematographer with films such as “Monster” & “The Waterboy” under his belt. This is his directorial debut which frequently skirts the line of a Lifetime Original Movie rather than a film that earned a theatrical release. What comes to the film’s rescue over and over is the impeccable cast tethered together by Morton and everybody’s favorite sad sack, “Breaking Bad’s” Aaron Paul as an aspiring rock star with a very distracting wig. Simultaneously Morton delivers a stubborn, yet tender performance that makes Annie an empathetic character rather than a pitiful subject. She is clearly a strong woman and Bernstein, along with his screenwriting brother Adam make sure the viewer is aware of this fact.
Even though Morton and the rest of the cast -including Alice Eve, Rashida Jones and Oscar winner Helen Hunt are there is a nagging feeling that there is a better story intertwined into this narrative that is not being told. It appears Bernstein forgot to delve into the story of the geneticist played by Hunt that spent a staggering 17 years trying solve Annie’s affliction.
There is a lot of substance to sink your teeth into with “Decoding Annie Parker” and this certainly should have been a more effective film given the inspiring subject matter, but it is just had one motive throughout and for that it ultimately falters.
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