After almost two years in the vaults, Portuguese director Afonso Poyart’s English language debut is finally seeing the light of day and, though by no means original or particularly clever, Solace is undeniably enjoyable.
At one point intended to be a sequel to David Fincher’s Se7en, Solace starts out as a fairly typical crime thriller. Agents Joe Merriweather and Katherine Cowels are met with an apparently unsolvable string of murders: no evidence, all killed painlessly with no apparent links between them. Stumped, Joe turns to John Clancy, an old friend and ex-consultant for the FBI. Clancy, a psychic – though he insists it’s all intuition and some quirk of quantum theory that gifts him with visions – isn’t thrilled, but the case intrigues him and he rather reluctantly agrees to help them.
The story is fairly straightforward and easy to read from there, though there are a few surprises thrown into mix. For the most part Solace is completely gripping, not as focused on gore or action and a touch lighter than the relentlessly dark thrillers being churned out nowadays. And like most stories with an interesting premise, the film gets bogged down in overly-obvious symbolism and over-explanation.
But what Solace lacks in originality it more than makes up with the cast and characters. Though Anthony Hopkins’ John is a well-worn cliché (the jaded ex-investigator, recently bereaved, dragged back in for one last case) his performance keeps it from being too dull. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s happily married Joe is a breath of fresh air after the onslaught of lone wolf types that have dominated the genre recently, and relatively unknown Abbie Cornish holds her own well.
All in all, it’s a strong debut – even if there are a few sequences that feel more like snippets from high budget adverts than a dark thriller – that comes to an oddly thought-provoking and sharply relevant conclusion.