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:: Alexandra's Project

Following the critical success of The Tracker, Rolf De Heer takes an unexpected turn in directing, writing and producing a much smaller film, a “psycho-sexual thriller about the sexual politics of marriage” in Alexandra’s Project. Again starring Gary Sweet and accomplished theatre actress Helen Buday, this unexpected thriller centres on Steve’s (Sweet) family and his marriage to wife Alexandra (Buday).

Steve is the guy with it all, beautiful wife, children and home, a great successful job where he is promoted, and it’s his birthday. On his day, he awakes to his loving children who shower him with gifts and affection and his somewhat distant wife who hints at a surprise for him when he returns home from work. Having yet another fantastic day at the office and eagerly awaiting for the day to pass to have his “surprise,” Steve arrives home to find all the furniture rearranged and a video tape with the words “Play Me” written across the top.

What ensues is a happy birthday video message from his children and some startling and confronting revelations about his marriage and the person whom he thought was his wife. Steve finds himself locked in his house unable to escape with his life and his children’s’ lives threatened. The tape continues to play terrifying Steve and revealing the life and family that he thought he has all those years was a deception. As the tension mounts he finds himself alone and in danger, left with nothing but the tape and its horrifying contents.

Sweet at times seems uncomfortable in his role, which probably is a good thing, since he is supposed to be the happy-go-lucky-guy that we all love but secretly hate at the same time. Buday is convincing and compelling to watch in her role as Alexandra. She displays such diverse range in her difficult and challenging character without losing the audience (well, maybe half?), bringing human quality and depth to Alexandra despite what is occurring to Steve, we are almost convinced to side with her?

An interesting premise that leaves possibilities open for anything to happen, although no matter what is scenario is imagined or implied, it is almost impossible to predict how the series of events will unfold. At times it is disturbing and difficult to watch once the tape veers from happy birthday daddy to you’re-going-to-suffer-and-there’s-nothing-you-can-do-about-it daddy, but one thing it can’t be accused of is predictability.