Directed by: Marc Evans | 88 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Colin Firth, Naomie Harris, Mena Suvari, Tommy Flanagan, Alison David, Cornelius Booth, Dermot Muraghan, Jamie Owen, Kirsty Young, Jamie Cameron, Justin Edwards, Nicola Cunningham, Paul Rattigan, Sean Harris, Kenneth Cranham, Nina Hossain, Dorothy Duffy
A deluge of accelerated images, blurred flashbacks and quasi-telling looks plus characters walking through battered spaces with blue, lots of blue. Just look at me being difficult, director Marc Evans (‘My Little Eye’ (2002), ‘Beautiful Mistake’ (2000)) must have thought when making ‘Trauma’. The result of his efforts? An excruciating, pretentious, completely inimitable film.
For example, after his discharge from hospital, Ben, the man who makes the film, suddenly walks past a life-size statue of the Virgin Mary in a disgusting building with many corridors and a room with dozens of television sets. What he does there does not become clear until much later: the best man has moved to a building that once functioned as a hospital. It was here that Ben’s idol, Lauren Parris (Alison David), was once born. Unfortunately, this movie star or something has been murdered and Ben is suspected of slaughtering her. And that while – you would almost forget – he has also just heard that his wife has died.
In these difficult times for him, Ben cherishes his friendship with Charlotte and the one with – yes – his ants. These bugs symbolize something. Ben says: Ants are just like people, only they don’t kill each other. He also likes spiders. Since the director regularly zooms in on these animals, these hairy types will also stand for something.
Halfway through the film, references to ghosts and auras trickle in, a kind of English Jomanda comes into the picture and Ben has bloody dreams. This gives the thriller something of a horror film. This effect is enhanced by the film music that accompanies every movement of the protagonists. These sounds have great predictive value: if the characters discover something scary, the drum beats, there is danger, then the violins scratch. Evans was probably afraid to leave anything to the imagination of his viewers.
Just as tantalizing as the unstoppable haunted house music is the performance of Colin Firth, also known as the “love interest” of ‘Bridget Jones’. He has a very hard time in the film. This is evident from his sighs and frowns. Why he’s actually having such a hard time doesn’t really matter. It seems as if his character has hatched from an egg: the film reveals little or nothing about his profession, social life and his family past – although there is something about a car accident that killed his parents. It is impossible to muster sympathy for such a flat type.
He is not attractive either. In ‘Trauma’ Firth is a silly cross between René Mioch and the Dutch writer Kluun. This makes it completely unbelievable that the tingling Charlotte, played by the blonde star from ‘American Beauty’ (1999), sees something in him and kisses him too.
Well, ‘Trauma’ is just a film that you cannot enjoy with the best will in the world.