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The Mass Media

Views From The Boston Skye-Line

Once published, Andrew Klavan’s book “Don’t Say a Word” won the Mystery Writer’s Guild Award and delighted his readers with a captivating story that, although many times visited, had a freshness to it that carried it well.

Now a major motion pictures release from 20th Century Fox, “Don’t Say a Word” continues to delight. Narrowly beating out this weekend’s other top grossing films, “Zoolander” and “Hearts In Atlantis”; Michael Douglas’ blockbuster totaled $18 million its first time out.

Taking place over a 24-hour time span, this edge of your seat picture surrounds a disturbed young girl named Elisabeth (Brittany Murphy) whose memories from a childhood trauma have caused her to spend the past ten years in psychiatric institutions.

We first meet Elisabeth when a gifted doctor, Nathan Conrad (Michael Douglas) is asked to evaluate her. What Dr. Conrad doesn’t know, but soon finds out is that locked inside Elisabeth’s mind is a secret code that unlocks the location of a priceless gem. The film heats up when the men who seek the gem kidnap the doctor’s little girl and use her to manipulate his treatment of young Elisabeth.

While this film embodies all the characteristics we look for in good mysteries, the plot is somewhat contrived. Containing all the expected characters – the villain, the protective father, the mysterious girl – it pleases those who don’t want overwork their cerebellum, but can be found lacking to those with limber minds. I would have really enjoyed a little more plot devoted to the unlocking of the mystery, however. I think the director lost a key opportunity to show off Michael Douglas’ established talent and feature Brittany’s for a larger audience. The most disappointing loss of opportunity in this film is the conclusion. We see things wrapping, up, but too much is left to the imagination and the closure the audience seeks for Elisabeth is left hanging.

Nonetheless, the acting and direction carry the story despite its predictability. Michael Douglas performs admirably, displaying all the fear and emotion of a man racing to save his daughter’s life, while maintaining the composure of a psychiatrist who really cares for his patient beyond her usefulness as a pawn. You really feel the chemistry between he and Brittany, whose talents are only beginning to be realized, and their on screen rapport is what brought the enjoyment of this picture home for me.

A relative unknown to the movie going populous, Brittany Murphy is a gem unto herself. Brittany first came to our attention as Tai in the film “Clueless”, starring Alicia Silverstone. She then went on to play other sideline roles in films like “Girl, Interrupted”, and “Drop Dead Gorgeous”. Brittany finally breaks out of her dimwitted blonde mold in “Don’t Say a Word” and shows the audience that there’s more going on with her than meets the eye.

This weekend, go and see “Don’t Say a Word” and judge for yourself. Despite its few shortcomings, it is some of the best fare being offered this month and worth the $10 to see Brittany Murphy finally break into the world of the big screen.