When we got the news a few months ago that Evan Rachel Wood had agreed to re-team with writer-director Catherine Hardwicke on Plush, it was a fairly welcome announcement for those acquainted with Hardwicke‘s fierce, determined — if largely one-note — Wood-starring debut, Thirteen. In combination with the cryptically titillating logline — an “erotic thriller set in the L.A. music world” — there was little reason to speculate that Hardwicke was still stuck in the mud of her snoozy Twilight and Red Riding Hood days.
A new exclusive from Variety, however, mixes things up quite a bit — both for better and for worse. The revelation of Emily Browning‘s circling of the project is, to my mind, the better half of that token. The striking Australian up-and-comer had to dodge a lot of criticism for her work in Zack Snyder‘s disastrous Sucker Punch, even though the film’s failings were no fault of her own. Less divisive, though, was the quality of her contribution to Julia Leigh‘s challenging first-time feature, Sleeping Beauty. The film was certainly no unanimous pleaser — and I’ll admit to not being fully convinced, after a single viewing, of its terse formal agenda — but even detractors seemed to concede that Browning‘s revealing, vulnerable leading turn was something noteworthy.
That said, there remains a heavily doubt-inducing aspect of the Variety report, and that’s the significant alteration to the film’s storyline, co-scribed by Hardwicke and Artie Nelson. It reads as follows: “Story follows a psychic psychologist who delves into the minds of patients and sees their memories in order to help them unleash past demons. He meets his match in Browning’s teen, who shares his gift.”
Whereas the previous, briefer summation brought back reassuring memories of both Thirteen‘s provocative sexual experimentation as well as its evocative representation of a seedy Los Angeles, the new plotline feels riddled with all the fantastical nonsense that has marred Hardwicke‘s previous two outings. So, for now, color me thumbs-up on the Browning involvement, and a seriously skeptical thumbs-sideways on the narrative side of things.
What is your initial reaction to the drastic storyline alteration?