Blu-ray Review: Spinning Man

By , Contributor
When it comes to direct-to-video movies these days, it's really a roll of the dice. Even with the presence of major name stars, there's usually the perception that most of these movies are outcasts for one reason (or many). A different scale of expectations, rightfully or wrongfully, is usually applied to a title falling under the "Never heard of it, but at least it has a good cast!" category.

Which brings us to Spinning Man, a new thriller that bypassed theaters (it's out on Blu-ray June 26) despite a solid trio of above-the-title stars: Pierce Brosnan, Guy Pearce, and Minnie Driver. And let me tell you, it's a good one. Swedish director Simon Kaijser has ventured into U.S.-based feature film-making for the first time with a work of uncommon psychological depth. The film is based on a novel (just about the same title, The Spinning Man) by George Harrar and focuses on philosophy professor Evan Birch (Pearce). Evan finds himself under investigation when a local high school student, Joyce (Odeya Rush), goes missing.

To say Evan is something of an unreliable narrator is a major understatement. He's constantly "spinning" new versions of his own life and times, usually hiding behind his knowledge of philosophy and linguistics. Why is Evan caught up in all this? His wife Ellen (Driver) would love to know, especially since she's aware of some past indiscretions her husband committed with students. Less emotionally interested, but very much interested nonetheless, is Detective Robert Malloy (Brosnan). He's on the case, continually finding reasons to wonder why this charming, smart, attractive college professor—who seems to be awfully chummy with his student Anna (Alexandra Shipp)—appears less than forthcoming.

Pearce and Brosnan provide some subtle but highly effective acting fireworks. Watching them share the screen, sparring with one another verbally, provides Spinning Man's highlights. The cast in general (which also includes strong bits by Clark Gregg and Jamie Kennedy) turns in first-rate work, so even when Matthew Aldrich's screenplay starts spinning its wheels a bit, there's always something interesting to watch. As a meta-joke, of sorts, it's kind of cool to note that Guy Pearce—long after famously and brilliantly portraying a man with no memory in Memento—has returned to a character mired in memory issues.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray edition boasts several special features, including deleted scenes, an "Inside Spinning Man" featurette, and director's commentary.

While Spinning Man may very well have not felt "worth it" at movie theater prices, it's exactly the kind of at-home experience anyone craving a thought-provoking, mind-bending thriller could ask for. 

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Chaz Lipp is a Las Vegas-based musician and freelance writer. His new jazz album 'Good Merlin' is now available.

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