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Review: Tribute – Nora Roberts’ Tribute (2009)

Directed by: | 88 minutes | drama, | Actors: , , , Diana Scarwid, , , , Wallace Merck, , ,

Ex-Hollywood star Cilla McGowan moves into her grandmother’s old ranch; the actress Janet Hardy. Her grandmother’s things are still in the house. On the first evening, Cilla has a lifelike dream about her grandmother, in which she not only watches, but can also take herself. After recovering from this strange event, Cilla decides to start the day diligently by doing some demolition work in the front yard. She is having fun with a demolition hammer on a collapsed structure and is watched by neighbor Ford Sawyer. He warns her that the of the former owner may not appreciate the structure being demolished now. Cilla tells Ford that she is okay with it and that she is related to Janet Hardy. This brief acquaintance is the prelude to a strong bond between Cilla and her single neighbor. After the first night, Cilla’s dreams continue. This gives her a little more insight into the past of her famous grandmother. But Cilla’s fascination with the past increases when she accidentally stumbles upon a book containing a stack of love letters. When someone breaks into the shed shortly afterwards and destroys old things, Cilla realizes that these love letters are very important. When ex-husband Steve is mistakenly involved in the issue, Cilla is completely determined to uncover the truth … But Cilla’s fascination with the past increases when she accidentally stumbles upon a book containing a stack of love letters. When someone breaks into the shed shortly afterwards and destroys old things, Cilla realizes that these love letters are very important. When ex-husband Steve is mistakenly involved in the issue, Cilla is completely determined to uncover the truth … But Cilla’s fascination with the past increases when she accidentally stumbles upon a book containing a stack of love letters. When someone breaks into the shed shortly afterwards and destroys old things, Cilla realizes that these love letters are very important. When ex-husband Steve is mistakenly involved in the issue, Cilla is completely determined to uncover the truth …

Nora Roberts’ books each work towards a certain climax. But this does not work with ‘Tribute’. The never gets really exciting. You are not aroused by the ‘bad’ events that Cilla experiences. You only see the final results; that hardly gets on your nerves. For example, during the burglary in the shed, the filmmakers could have portrayed the perpetrator in such a way that you can see what the person is up to – without revealing their identity. Even when the actions against Cilla take on greater proportions, you as a viewer remain rather unaffected because the camera work does not generate enough suspicion and scary moments. You are literally and figuratively too far from it.

Whatever kills ‘Tribute’ is the unbelievability of Brittany Murphy and Jason Lewis as a couple. The dialogues between the two seem artificial and there is no trace of chemistry. The only scene that is somewhat entertaining is the meeting between Cilla and Ford; with Cilla ridiculing Ford’s name. The passion is totally lacking, the looks between the actors don’t suggest enough and when they kiss each other it seems more perfunctory than . The background of the main character is also thin in ‘Tribute’. You know that Cilla is a former child star, but a few snippets from her childhood might have been a bit more compassionate. Unfortunately, Murphy herself also makes mistakes with her performance to make Cilla interesting. Such is the scene in which she attempts to demolish the building with the hammer, a joke. There is so little zest in the blows she deals with the hammer that they are actually pathetic taps against a wall.

Murphy also disappoints in Cilla’s emotional moments. Her facial expressions and intonation are then too forced. Like the moment when she finds her ex-husband Steve (Christian Oliver) unconscious on the floor. In addition, the makers of ‘Tribute’ Murphy could well have presented differently; the hair styling is lousy. Murphy’s hair seems dead and the moments when she wears the hair almost loose, she also seems anything but flourishing. A shame if you are familiar with other works by Brittany Murphy, such as ‘Just Married’ with . In this film, the actress sparkles in appearance. Perhaps most of the money went to the actors and the filming location, and little was left for the styling?

Luckily there was little to mess up with Jason Lewis’ haircut and it looks fine. But just like that of his colleague, his playing seems anything but natural. Lewis is stiff in his role as the comic-drawing neighbor annex decorator in terms of dialogue and facial expressions, so that he mainly leans on his appearance. With regard to the script of ‘Tribute’, loose ends of the story are not nicely brushed away; that’s how ex-husband Steve comes on the scene for a while. And later on, he is no longer looked after.

‘Tribute’ is one of the kind of movies that are better left in the DVD sleeve. The film is boringly boring due to the lack of suspense and passionate romance. Brittany Murphy fans should avoid this film; it does the memory of the late actress more bad than good.

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