I watched this very early Jodie Foster film a few weeks ago and didn't know a thing about it. Somebody at work recommended it and thought I might appreciate it. It's a 70's film (1976 to be exact) by Nicolas Gessner, an otherwise unknown director to me but since I do love movies with atmosphere and always liked Foster, I thought I should give it a go.
What a creepy little gem this is. It's about a little girl (played by Foster of course) who lives in a remote house with her father or so she says, since we never actually see the father. She is quite brilliant for her age and manages to get by without any problems and as the film unfolds, we can feel the eeriness of the whole situation even more heightened by a young Martin Sheen who, it seems, is a known pedophile around town. Of course, he was never convicted of anything since the powers that be are closely related to him and they attempted to hide this fact by arranging a marriage with him and a mother of two.
But his visits to Foster's home are pretty disturbing with a subtle and creepy performance by Sheen who doesn't let up and doesn't show his real face right away, like all good pedophiles do. Anyway, I don't want to spoil anything to you so I might as well let you discover all the fine tunings of this film with the proper mood but be prepared for an amazing performance by Jodie Foster, she is quite astonishing in this, demonstrating an incredible talent at an early age that really made my jaw drop more times than I can count.
A slow, burning movie that stays with you without any dazzling effects or otherwise but manages to hypnotize you with ingenuity, a proper eerie mood and wonderful acting. Recommended.
On another note, about a week later, I also saw the newest film starring Foster, FLIGHTPLAN (2005, Robert Schwentke) which is a hit & miss film. It starts out with an interesting premise: a woman loses her child on a flying airplane and nobody saw her, hence nobody believes the woman. There are hints of madness and the whole first act of this movie is really well done, especially everything setting up the situation and of course, Foster is always interesting to watch. But then, halfway through the film, while good ideas have been spreading around like her being just plain mad, the last half starts rearing its head and ends up being a usual blockbuster finale with all the clichés and lame plot devices intact. Sad, but still fun to watch except that if you turn off the film before that last part, you will end up with a fine souvenir of a great film, alas, that's not what it is.
This is Schwentke's first US effort after his hit German shocker TATTOO (2002) which was another interesting little thriller but one that gets forgotten after a couple of days. Grim, perverse and well shot but doesn't leave any lasting effect. Still, hopefully, he'll bring us something better next time and so will Foster.