Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.


Illustration for article titled Premonition

What does it say about the times that the last two Sandra Bullock movies, The Lake House and now Premonition, have stories that split into two temporal planes, for reasons left completely unexplained? The former follows a love connection between two people living two years apart; the latter volleys between the days leading up to and following a fatal accident as if Friday were the day after Monday. Since Memento, such gimmickry has mostly infiltrated the mainstream in the form of thrillers like Déjà Vu and The Jacket, but to see it applied to two straight romantic melodramas starring Bullock—one of Hollywood's least adventurous stars—means something. Clearly, mainstream audiences are growing more comfortable with movies that stray from chronology, but more than that, it speaks to how the lives of even high-gloss heroines like Bullock are fraught with anxiety and instability. Is this how People magazine readers are feeling these days?

For as long as the ground shifts under Bullock's feet, Premonition sustains a low level of intrigue, but once the confusion ends, the stitched-together plot falls apart at the seams. As the film opens, Bullock's marriage to banker Julian McMahon has lost much of its spark, though she's gamely holding down the house with their two young girls. One afternoon, a police officer arrives with the grave news that McMahon has died in a car accident. And yet the very next morning, Bullock awakes to find him alive and well in their kitchen, sipping a cup of coffee. The day after that, he's dead again, and a crowd of mourners has gathered, including Amber Valletta, a co-worker with whom McMahon may have had an affair. Eventually, Bullock realizes that McMahon's death was a premonition, and she attempts to keep the tragedy from happening.

Basically, Bullock takes the long route toward understanding what Masi Oka discovered on the TV show Heroes: Having the ability to know the future doesn't necessarily make changing it any easier. Except that Oka can zip around in space and time at will, while Bullock's superpower appears to be the ability to keep her hubby from sleeping around. The first half of Premonition creates the illusion of a challenging movie simply by being confusing and disorienting, and exploring Bullock's nightmarish scenario of not knowing whether to grieve. But the clearer her situation becomes, the more the ground opens up beneath the film, allowing it to fall through its own plot holes. Had it been easier to comprehend at the beginning, there's no telling how bad Premonition might have been.