Abandon [2002]

Director: Various
Stars: Various
Genre: Drama, Music, Mystery
Rating: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 98 minutes

You can admire Abandon more for what it attempts, as opposed to what it actually achieves. Making his directorial debut after winning an OscarĀ® for scripting Traffic, screenwriter Stephen Gaghan emphasizes character dynamics and time-shifting structure over action and plotting, and the results are intelligent but oddly detached. As a recovering alcoholic detective (Benjamin Bratt) is assigned to reopen the two-year-old disappearance of an arrogant college student, we're drawn into the thoughts and emotions of the missing person's former girlfriend (Katie Holmes), whose behavior--especially when her volatile ex-boyfriend suddenly reappears--is key to the slowly unfolding mystery. Abandon is all about mood and atmosphere--shadowy gloom is dominant throughout--and viewers may grow impatient as the tissue-thin plot leads to an anticlimactic revelation. Still, Gaghan's sharp dialogue draws fine work from Holmes, and his supporting cast (especially Zooey Deschanel and Melanie Lynskey, as fellow students) adds much-needed energy on the fringes of this lugubrious psychological thriller. --Jeff Shannon

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