The Offspring

Jennifer Lynch has been tarred with the unfounded claim that her films get made only because of who her father is. David Lynch serves as executive producer of Surveillance, Jennifer’s first film since the near-stoning she received after 1993’s Boxing Helena, and traces of his oeuvre surface in his daughter’s latest. But Dad’s influence ends there: Surveillance is the work of a director who has made significant strides in both storytelling and control of the medium, deftly interweaving a grisly thriller, a sicko Rashômon, a switcheroo, a psychotic love story, an imaginative paean to children, and an inspired resurrection of Julia Ormond. Two FBI agents (Ormond and Bill Pullman) arrive at a podunk police station to investigate a mass slaughter on the highway from the day before, videotaping three witnesses: a cop, a cokehead, and a kid. Composed beyond her years, the most reliable of the film’s traumatized witnesses is blonde moppet Stephanie (Ryan Simpkins). Ormond, who interrogates Stephanie, throws herself into the role with the abandon of a performer who has nothing left to lose. And as for her director’s re-emergence, Lynch’s third film, Hisss, about a lethal snake woman, is apparently in post-production. While her father is busy with TM, Jennifer appears committed to continuing the noble tradition of blowing — not calming — our minds.
July 3-9, 2009

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