11:14 (DVD) (WS)
In Middletown, at 11:14 PM, two cars accidents happen at the same time, affecting the lives of five different groups of people. A drunken driver hits a man in a lonely road near a bridge; three young men hits a woman with a van, one of the passenger has a severed penis while another man on the road shoots them; a young man robs a convenience store, with the support of the clerk; a man finds a body in a cemetery and gets rid off it; and a young woman pretending to be pregnant tries to raise money for an abortion. All of these characters and their fates are very connected.
How is it possible that 11:14
went virtually unreleased in theaters? After modest film-festival exposure, it played briefly in San Francisco in August 2005 (over two years after it was completed), but that's a cruel twist of fate for such a cleverly twisted movie about cruel twists of fate. Destined for sleeper status on DVD (and given a slightly higher profile by Hilary Swank's subsequent Oscar-winning performance in Million Dollar Baby
), the audacious debut of writer-director Greg Marcks boasts a fantastic cast in a smartly constructed comedy/thriller, partly inspired by Blood Simple
, in which a fatal traffic accident is examined and re-examined from multiple perspectives. The flashback structure involves all of the characters and events that lead up to the accident's deadly occurrence at 11:14 on an otherwise pleasant evening in Middleton, a typical suburb of Anytown, USA (filmed in the vicinity of Los Angeles). Marcks's screenplay attracted an impressive ensemble cast (costar Swank also signed on as an executive producer), and they're all given equal time as the intertwined plots are revealed. They include Rachael Leigh Cook (whose bad-girl behavior sets the chain of events in motion); Patrick Swayze and Barbara Hershey as her worried parents; Swank and Shawn Hatosy as would-be criminals with a dimwit plan; Henry Thomas as a drunk driver whose involvement is deeper than we realize; and Colin Hanks as one of three teenage vandals on a fast track to trouble. With falling corpses, graveyard sex, reckless gunplay, and a severed penis, it's all in good, grisly fun (apart from intricate plotting, Marcks has no lofty agenda up his sleeve), and there's ultimately not much point to its random misfortune, but 11:14
is clearly the work of a promising filmmaker, worthy of rediscovery on DVD. Bonus features include Marcks's intelligent commentary, a standard behind-the-scenes featurette, and a useful "character jump" feature allowing viewers to choose a plot trajectory whenever one character encounters another. --Jeff Shannon