An Emmy and Golden Globe winner for 'The X-Files' and a Golden Globe nominee for her brilliant performance as Lady Dedock in 'Bleak House', Gillian Anderson mystifyingly remains an actress who should be starring in much bigger films. Thus far, many of her choices have been low-key and her all-too-brief appearance in the Oscar-winning 'The Last King of Scotland' only served as another reminder of the fact that she deserves more leading roles on the big screen. But not of the kind that 'Straightheads' offers.

She plays Alice (Anderson), a London resident with a career among the higher echelons of city workers. Living in a luxury apartment, Alice hires security contractor Adam (Dyer) to install the latest alarm technology in her home.

From the moment they meet early in the morning it appears there is a chemistry. And when Alice returns home after work and asks Adam to go with her to a work party in the country later that evening he quickly agrees.

Their journey to and time together at the party increases the sexual tension between them and during the festivities the two disappear into the woods.

On their return to the city on a back road they insult the occupants of a jeep while overtaking them and then, momentarily distracted, hit a deer. Stopping the car, Alice and Adam try to move the injured animal. What happens next to both of them is terrifying.

After over a decade directing documentaries, including the brilliant study of the Moscow theatre siege 'Terror in Moscow', Dan Reed makes his feature debut with 'Straightheads'. It's a film which had a huge amount of potential but ends up as a mess.

Working from his own screenplay, Reed successfully blends style and intrigue in the early stages and then shatters any comfort zone around the viewer with a nauseating scene of sexual and physical violence.

But thereafter the director throws away everything he's built up and 'Straightheads' gets duller and sillier by the minute. Rather than solely making a character study on the after-effects of violence on female and male identity, Reed tries to incorporate the revenge genre into what should have remained a story about two people who can't get retribution. The results are farcical.

'Straightheads'' 79-minute running time is the most damning indictment of how short of ideas it is - here suspension of disbelief and loss of interest work in tandem. It's galling to see someone as talented as Anderson waste her time on a film that feels thrown together, while Dyer, operating here beyond his cheeky chappie roles, also owed himself more.  


Harry Guerin