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Premonition (2007)


  • Review: *** (out of ****)
  • Starring: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Nia Long, Irene Ziegler, Kate Nelligan, Marc Macaulay, Amber Valletta, Peter Stormare, Jude Ciccolella
  • Director: Mennan Yapo
  • Screenplay: Bill Kelly
  • Length: 110 min.
  • MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For some violent content, disturbing images, thematic material and brief language)

Have you, or anyone you know, ever had the feeling that something bad had happened to a member of your family. The film Premonition takes that brand of intuition often labeled “motherly” and tweaks the formula into a time-twisting motion picture that doesn’t sell itself out.

The film takes place over a seven day period, but not linearly. Somewhat like a pick-up sticks dropping into a random order, Premonition examines a tragic car accident and the days leading up to and following the accident in a seemingly-random order. As the story plays out, however, the audience comes to understand how everything fits together.

Linda Hanson (Sandra Bullock) had a perfect marriage. We learn much of the characters’ back stories as the film progresses. Over time, she and her husband Jim (Julian McMahon) have fallen out of the love they were in when they started their relationship. They have two wonderful children, Megan (Shyann McClure) and Bridgette (Courtney Taylor Burness) and they remain together for the reason many such couples do.

When Jim is involved in a fatal car crash, Linda’s life falls into disarray. She realizes how much she loved him. Then, when she awakens the next day to find that the accident hasn’t yet happened, she goes out of her way to try and stop the wreck and save the man she really loves.

When Pulp Fiction incited the heavily-mimicked style of reverse storytelling, it was only a matter of time before jumbled storytelling came into play. Bill Kelly’s well attuned script helps guide Premonition to a successful conclusion. Taking seven days, splitting them up giving the audience a chance to discover things in the past that affect things in the future and ultimately realizing how everything coalesces in the end is a massive undertaking. There are story elements that don’t work, mostly relating to a scene set in the church and a significant time jump at the film’s conclusion, but overall the film satisfies its viewers’ appetite for cleverness.

Much of what works is supported by Bullock’s laudable performance. Though she slips into Speed panic mode a couple of times, the scene I’ll most credit her for is one where she’s standing at her front door and receiving word of her husbands death. As the sound fades and you barely hear the policeman explaining the situation, she stares blankly forward in disbelief. The pain and suffering she conveys with her eyes are enough to support what could have been a scene of broken down hysterics given to another actress. Bullock’s decision to adopt such a potentially unemotional expression succeeds tremendously.

Kelly’s skillful pen, hampered primarily by Mennan Yapo’s weak direction, crafts one of the few enjoyable time-affected storylines. Many films, like Bullock’s previous The Lake House, go for sensational, unwarrantedly happy endings. They ignore colossal plot holes in favor of sating the audience’s emotions. Premonition successfully balances audience satisfaction while staying true to its roots. It doesn’t pull punches and never lets up in its relentless pursuit of a conclusion. The attention to detail of arranging fore and postshadowed sequences make for an interesting and satisfying screenplay.

Premonition may avoid the pitfalls of the time-altering plot device, but the fact that it doesn’t molly-coddle the viewer may have been what sunk the film at the box office. Regardless of that fact, it is still one of the more intriguing and artful films of the year.