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Driftwood Review

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Sarah is walking on the beach one day when she finds an unconscious man. She nurses him back to health, finds that he is amnesiac, and tells him that they are on a deserted island. As he becomes stronger, however, she takes increasingly desperate measures to keep him work her.

★★★★★

While collecting timber on a deserted Irish shore, a young woman, Sarah (Brochet), discovers a mysterious stranger (Spader) face down on the beach. Taking him back to her cottage, she nurses the amnesiac's wounds, spinning him the yarn that they are the only two inhabitants of a secluded island. Totally dependent on Sarah, the visitor becomes attracted to her and the pair become lovers, but as his health improves, Sarah becomes worried that he will leave, and starts desperate measures to keep him captive.

This is where the film falls down. After a splendid wordless opening, Brochet's protracted attempts to hold Spader hostage become ridiculous and tiresome. Furthermore the screenplay is cliched and liberally sprinkled with the clumsiest devices. Almost its only saving grace is O'Leary's use of desolate locales, cleverly crafting a sense of claustrophobia out of windswept wide open spaces.

But the usually reliable Spader alternates ham-fistedly between befuddlement and annoyance, while Brochet fails to imbue Sarah's predicament with insight or empathy. To compensate for the lack of genuine feeling, the soundtrack is awash with syrupy strings and traditional Irish pipes. However, no amount of musical wallpaper can disguise the fact that, as psychological dramas go, this one is all washed up.

Putting an arthouse spin on the pitch of Misery - possessive woman manipulates bed-ridden male - this half-baked tale of obsessive love unfortunately lacks the emotional arcs, character development and powerhouse performances which characterised the former, and delivers a rather monotone experience.

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