Eli (2019)

I hadn’t heard of this movie until I stumbled onto it on Netflix, and I decided to give it a shot because I’ll pretty much watch anything with Lili Taylor. For the first chunk, I thought it was pretty good: It’s well-shot by director Ciaran Foy, the screenplay is pretty solid, and the acting is strong all around. Additionally, the story is fairly cryptic without being obtuse, with lots of developments over the course of its narrative that keep things fresh and moving along despite the rather limited sets and characters, all of which is admirable. In the last bit however, I’m not sure if it’s the movie itself that goes off the rails or if there’s one too many reveals in quick succession, but it becomes a bit overloaded: So many things start happening in the last 20 minutes that could probably use a little more fleshing out, which would give the audience a chance to re-program their approach to the movie they’re watching in order to digest exactly what just happened. In the end, it feels like an M. Night Shyamalan movie in some ways: It seems like screenwriters David Chirchirillo, Ian Goldberg and Richard Naing started with a neat idea for a twist ending, then worked their way backwards into developing the story, narrative and characters. Luckily however, they’re much strong writers than Shyamalan while director Foy doesn’t actively try to deceive his audience the way Shyamalan does so it’s more palatable… but it’s still all a bit much, really.

Rating: ★★★ (out of 5)

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