dot the i

For his English-speaking film debut, Mexican superstar and art house favorite Gael Garcia Bernal sure chose a stinker. dot the i begins as a standard love triangle story, them begins to morph into something more sinister. The problem is that the film does not know where to stop. It keeps going and going until it turns into something so logically incredulous that it is a mere parody of itself. By the end of the film, the story is so far removed from any sense of reality that it is just stupid. One assumes that with his high profile, Bernal (Bad Education, The Motorcycle Diaries) could have his pick of any English language film he wanted. Why dot the i? Nobody knows. Bernal is Kit, a handsome young struggling actor who meets Carmen (Natalia Verbeke, The Other Side of the Bed, Son of the Bride), who is engaged to Barnaby (James D'Arcy, Exorcist: The Beginning, Master and Commander).

Carmen is celebrating her engagement when tradition dictates she have one last kiss with a stranger. They kiss, and the effect on both of them is profound. Carmen runs off, ashamed at what she did. Kit is entranced by her, and tracks her down and begs for one more date. Against her better judgment, Carmen relents. Barnaby represents stability. He has lots of money, and he is devoted to her. Kit represents passion, and Carmen knows about passion because she is a flamenco dancer. He is ruggedly handsome, has little money, but she enjoys the time they spend together, and that time only increases. Plus, they relate because both of their fathers drank wine from mugs, and that has to mean something. Still, she pulls herself away, telling Kit (mostly trying to convince herself) that what they are doing is wrong.

Matthew Parkhill (who wrote and directed the film) immediately shows that something is wrong. There are a few instances where there is interference on the screen. Is something wrong with the projector? No, since this happens multiple times. Then, Carmen and Barnaby allude to something violent that happened to her in Madrid. This incident involved stalking, and caused her to move to England. Carmen now believes somebody is stalking her again, and she initially thinks it's Kit. Parkhill has multiple scenes of her, walking around looking nervous, from the vantage point of a hidden grainy camera. And it just so happens that Kit likes to film everything all the time.

dot the i works on a less-than-average level when it focuses on the love triangle, but is never convincing. Barnaby does seem stable and well off, but he's also a total bore. For anybody to want to marry him, even with his good qualities is a stretch. Kit is the opposite. Why does he keep flinging himself at Carmen when he knows it is wrong? Well, aside from the fact that the script calls for him to do so. And if Carmen sure is stupid if she keeps going to Kit, believing he is stalking her, especially given what happened to her in Madrid (which the story eventually reveals). Parkhill probably thought he was being clever with the way he structured the third act, slowly revealing how everything played out. It all comes off as far too contrived and unbelievable. Then, when it finally seems like the film is over, Parkhill keeps on going, with what can only be described as a personal fantasy of his (of how the film turns out). By this point, everybody will be groaning in pain.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 32 minutes, Rated R for strong sexuality/nudity, language, and some violence.

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