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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Fragments
Directed by Rowan Woods
Sony Pictures 07/09 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - violent content, sexuality and language

So many movies depict grotesque acts of violence on the screen but never bother to trace the after-effects upon victims' families or witnesses. Not so with this disturbing drama directed by Rowan Woods and written by Roy Freirich based on his novel Winged Creatures.

A man walks into a Los Angeles dinner and begins randomly shooting people. When he is done, he kills himself. The man with the gun has not only taken lives but he has given those in the diner a heavy burden to carry; he has brought suffering, pain, confusion, and trauma into their lives. Many of them will never be the same. And thanks to the easy access to guns in America, the number of gun tragedy survivors is increasing every day.

The witnesses in the diner are a diverse group of five individuals who handle what they have experienced in different ways. Charlie (Forest Whitaker) is a driving school teacher who is worried that he might have cancer. He becomes convinced that he escaped with his life due to luck. Deciding he is invincible, he goes to gamble in a casino. Meanwhile, his daughter (Jennifer Hudson) worries about his state of mind, especially after she loses contact with him.

Dr. Laraby (Guy Pearce) stops in the diner and flirts briefly with Carla (Kate Beckinsale), the waitress. On his way out, he opens the door for the shooter. At the hospital after the tragedy, he tries to play God in the operating room. A fellow physician is worried about his mental state and well he should be, since Dr. Laraby, who is having troubles with his wife (Embeth Davidtz), evidences strange behavior by setting her up for a close encounter with death. Meanwhile, Carla tries to strike up a romantic relationship with him while ignoring her infant child.

The other two witnesses are teenagers: Annie (Dakota Fanning) and her friend Jimmy (Josh Hutcherson), who watch from under a table as her father is murdered. She responds to the loss of her beloved parent by turning to God and touting her father as a heroic figure in the face of death. Her mother (Jeanne Tripplehorn) is mystified by Annie's new religious fanaticism. Jimmy's parents (Robin Wiegert and Jackie Earle Haley) don't know how to deal with his silence after the shootings. A diligent counselor tries to get these youth to talk with him and deal with their post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but they refuse to do so.

Fragments vividly conveys the sorrow and suffering brought into the lives of these five individuals by the man with the gun. It is a story that should be told again and again until the American public gets the message and empathizes with all the misery caused by a culture obsessed with violence and guns.


Special features on the DVD include a commentary by director Rowan Woods.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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