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:: Dragonfly

In recent times there has been a huge curiosity with the afterlife as many psychic mediums’ and collective thought has surfaced to mainstream media. It seems as if in this day and age there is a wider interest and discourse on what exists after we die and what evidence, if any, is out there. Dragonfly attempts to explore the realm of the afterlife, what lies beyond death.

Dr. Joe Darrow (Kevin Costner) loses his pregnant wife Dr. Emily Darrow (Susanna Thompson) in a bus accident on her way to a Venezuelan village with the Red Cross. Joe struggles with her loss with no comfort to be found in working himself into a frenzy or with his best friends who in an attempt to cheer him up remind him of how great they were together, “She was the heart and you were the brains.” That being the case Joe is left without a heart and six months later still hasn’t come to terms with her death, as her body was never found and he is yet to find any closure. It is time for him to let go as concerned friend Miriam Belmont (Kathy Bates) keeps reminding him. And just as Joe attempts to do that he experiences several supernatural occurrences. Whilst packing up Emily’s belongings and finally attempting to ‘let go’ her favourite dragonfly paperweight manages to unwrap itself and shatter on their bedroom floor and her clothes mysteriously unpack and hang themselves back into her closet. Visibly shaken by this, Joe is reminded of a promise he kept to Emily which entails visiting her patients in the children’s ward, many of which have deceased or been discharged. Two little boys who were under her care remain, one who has a heart problem and ‘dies’ on a regular basis and another who was a coma patient. The two boys give Joe the confirmation and hope he needs to believe that Emily is trying to contact him. They each know who he is without ever meeting him referring to him as “Emily’s Joe.” Friends and work colleagues insist that Joe has ‘lost it’ and needs to take some time out to grieve properly. With the images and information the boys present to him, Joe attempts to discover what it is that Emily is trying to communicate to him and with the help of Sister Madeline (Linda Hunt) who studied the impact of near-death experiences in children, Joe begins a journey to her death site in Venezuela. Once he arrives there Joe is helped along by Emily and makes a discovery that ultimately will affect him for the rest of his life proving that love conquers all, including death.

Director Tom Shadyac whose past work includes Ace Ventura, The Nutty Professor, Liar, Liar and Patch Adams seems to be a little unsettled in dealing with such delicate subject matter as the supernatural and the afterlife, Dragonfly seems to teetering between being a drama and a supernatural thriller. However the main problem with this film lies in the script as many of the supernatural ‘occurrences’ Joe witnesses seems silly, unbelievable and pointless, leading Joe on a wild goose chase. Unfortunately the film heavily relies on Costner’s dull and numbing performance as the grieving husband who never really grieves, with the ‘supporting’ character’s, never really supporting Joe and his ordeal, claiming him to be heartless and delusional. It seems as if what motivates Costner’s Joe is that he is out to disprove to his friends that he isn’t mad and that his wife really is contacting him. Bates’ performance is average and underused as the token ‘sceptic,’ constantly reminding Joe that she is an attorney and relies on facts. The referencing to dragonflies also falls flat as it appears to be something his wife was obsessed with as she herself had a birthmark of a dragonfly on her back. An interesting look at death and the supernatural, which is now becoming a growing trend in film and media, however it falls way below the mark when it comes to delivering. Produced by the same team responsible for The Sixth Sense, it seems as if they are trying to recreate the same formula with the genre in Dragonfly, especially with the unexpected and surprising ending.

Screening on general release