In the modern age of movies, it can easily be forgotten that a “good” film can be made outside the big-budget Hollywood formula — it doesn’t need a hundred-million dollar budget for cutting-edge CGI, or an ensemble of A-list actors. However, something that is required of any good film, whatever its budget, is consistency. Among other things, consistency is needed in sticking to the plot, character development, resolving whatever conflict the film is about.

“The City of Your Final Destination”

At the State
Screen Media

“The City of Your Final Destination” lacks this one fundamental aspect of a good film. Based on a 2002 novel of the same name by Peter Cameron, the film delivers an exceptional performance from Laura Linney and a story about discovering what we truly want, but it falls short of a “must see” due to the flaws of several other underdeveloped characters.

The movie tells the story of Omar Razaghi (Omar Metwally, “Munich”), a man aspiring to write a biography on a late author by the name of Jules Gund. Omar hopes this biography will help earn him a professorship at the same university as his girlfriend. However, he must travel to Uruguay to receive permission from the family to write the biography. While convincing Jules’s brother, Adam (Anthony Hopkins, “Silence of the Lambs”), and Jules’s mistress, Arden (Charlotte Gainsbourg, “21 Grams”), comes easily, persuading Jules’s wife, Caroline (Laura Linney, “The Savages”), proves to be more difficult.

Metwally has the leading role of the film — or at least, he should have. Not only is his character absent for a significant portion of the film (in recovery after realizing too late he’s allergic to bees), but he never acts as someone to take charge. He only travels to Uruguay at the insistence of his bossy girlfriend. The screenplay for this film never gives Metwally’s character a chance to spread his wings and develop. Besides the fact that he is trying to write a book, there’s never anything truly interesting about him.

The film has one other large, nagging problem. Who is Jules, the man who sets the base for the entire story? The audience never once gets a glimpse of him, which could be because he is dead by the time the movie starts. Why would Omar pick this man to write about, out of all the potential great authors of the world? These questions remain unanswered in the film from start to finish. The audience only sees Jules as an opportunity for Omar to advance his career, and nothing more.

On a more positive note, one of the truly shining attributes of this movie comes from Linney’s portrayal of Caroline. Without Caroline, there would have been no conflict for Omar. He would have received his letter of approval to write Jules’s biography five minutes into the film, and that would have been the end. Whenever Caroline speaks with Omar, the audience really understands how she views him, as nothing more than an uninvited guest interrupting her day-to-day life. Though only a supporting actress, Linney provides the most depth to her character of anyone in the film. Caroline makes viewers lean forward from their seats, even if just for a short while.

While “The City of Your Final Destination” does have its high points, it falls far short of what it could have been: a compelling drama about a family in conflict with itself. Barring Linney’s performance, there is little character depth and development for the characters who should have taken the spotlight for the film.

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