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The Tie That Binds Review

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★★★★

Screenwriter turned director Wesley Strick takes Mickey and Mallory's parents on the road, piles on the gothic melodrama and, for good measure, chucks in what could easily be a bad degree course in overt and obvious symbolism. The resultant thriller is awash in style, limp in plot and stretches the bounds of one dimension in character.

Leann (Hannah) and John (Carradine) are in love, on the road, and deeply psychotic. Living in their car, they stop only to find food for their daughter Janie (Julie Delvin), generally bumping off the people they happen to steal food from. When a midnight feast goes awry, they take off, leaving Janie to the hands of the social services, who in turn deliver her into the loving home of Mr. and Mrs. Whitebread America (Kelly and Spano). And it's nature versus nuture in vivid action, when Jane's biological parents decide they want her back.

As a screenwriter Strick has given us the sub-Hitchcockian Final Analysis and the grandiose Cape Fear. His debut as director ploughs a similar furrow, rapidly getting stuck in a rut. There's an obvious kid let loose in the candy store feel to the way Strick piles on the heightened imagery with filmic nods to everything from Don't Look Now to a swirling clouds effect where you swear the mothership from Close Encounters is going to appear. The under-valued Kelly still manages to shine, as does child actress Devin, while Carradine takes great joy in using a gay cop to demolish a kitchen. Maybe Strick should have concentrated more on the script (not one of his own) than his visuals, for what remains is a shallow, predictable and defiantly unoriginal thriller.