Director: Robert Malenfant | 89 minutes | drama, thriller | Actors: Angus Macfadyen, Tara Reid, Colm Meaney, Francesc Garrido, Lorena Bernal, Mingo Ràfols, Robert Galzarano, Sue Flack, Carles Francino, Roger Delmont
If films released directly to DVD were to be included in the Razzies’ awards, the Razzie for worst film couple would undoubtedly go to Angus Macfadyen and Tara Reid. The two actors play a married couple, but you can’t find them a worse match. In the beginning of the film, there is no hate in their relationship, but even then the two characters seem further apart than ever. Reid looks at Macfadyen as if she’s seeing him for the first time, instead of the fact that they’d been married for seven years and Macfadyen looks at Reid as if he realizes all too well what kind of B-actress he has to play his scenes with.
In addition to the miserable casting, the decision to give the green light for the screen adaptation can be questioned. The story that lies at the basis of ‘Unnatural Causes’ is full of illogicalities and plot holes. Responsible for this script is Jacques Haitkin, who has a long Hollywood career as a cinematographer, with his greatest achievement being ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’. ‘Unnatural Causes’ is his first screenplay. The film, also known as ‘Clean Break’, which is an equally uninspired title, is about a married couple, Matt and Julia, who together run a growing advertising agency in Barcelona. He is director, she is responsible for relationship management. After an exciting assignment, which the company has successfully concluded, a party takes place where Matt is introduced by Trevor Jones (Colm Meaney). Matt’s speech is uninspired and stuffy: not something you’d expect from the boss of a flashy ad agency. The partygoers will look as you expect them to be: young, sexy and cheerful. But that’s not what this lackluster thriller is all about.
Matt’s behavior changes like a bolt from the blue, partly because of the $ 130,000 bill recently filed by Julia for spending on relationship bonding. That she has not used the money at all for business purposes is immediately clear to both the viewer and Matt, that she has used the money for the purchase of an idyllic wooden house in the Pyrenees, as a surprise to Matt, only the viewer knows (though the makers had probably hoped that this would also be an unexpected turn for the public). What kills the credibility, however, is why Julia puts this on her company account… Doesn’t it make sense to declare a wedding gift from the company where you work, especially if your boss happens to be your husband too? Anyway: for Matt, the secrecy with which Julia speaks about money spent is sufficient reason to expect her to cheat. Certainly when photos emerge – taken by a corrupt police officer hired by Trevor – why Julia is smiling (shame!) With an unknown man, his fuses blow.
Prompted by his brother, who has an unclear position at the ad agency, Matt says there is only one solution: Julia must die. His alcoholism, of course, only makes matters worse. What follows is a never-ending sequence of scenes in which Julia and Matt take each other’s life, whether or not through third parties. The acting is bad, the dialogues forced and the setting in one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, Barcelona, is not used at all. See if you want to see absolutely everything from Colm Meaney, Angus Macfadyen, Francesc Garrido or Tara Reid, otherwise there is no reason to sit in front of ‘Unnatural Causes’.