Opening 31 Dec 2015
FBI agent Joe Merriwether (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is stumped over three murders, which he must solve. The only common denominator is that all victims were stabbed in the back of the head. Otherwise: one is a young boy, one a middle-aged man, and the third an elderly woman. In a last-ditch effort to solve the crimes, he hooks up with a younger colleague, Katherine Cowles (Abbie Cornish), and together they drive out to visit clairvoyant psychologist Dr. John Clancy (Anthony Hopkins). Clancy is initially reluctant to cooperate, having retreated from the limelight of his controversial profession after the death of his daughter from leukemia two years ago. In the end, he agrees to consider the cases, which in the meantime are now four, the fourth being a beautiful young woman found dead in her bathtub. They go through various suspects, including the husband of the last victim. Clancy discovers a common thread: three victims had life-threatening diseases: Lou Gehrig’s disease, AIDS, and cancer. Only the 12-year-old boy seemed to be healthy, and his Christian Science parents refuse to permit an autopsy. Before the final scene, there is a car chase, a mistaken identity, discussion about euthanasia, several more deaths, and much more.
This is a different kind of thriller, partly explained by the English title which means “alleviation of grief” or “to soothe grief.” The murderer sees himself as a savior to the terminally ill and says, “They beg and I grant them their wish. I don’t enjoy the work I do. Acts of love are the hardest to commit.” He expects Clancy to agree with him, even continue this work. After all, Clancy has still not recovered from the slow suffering of his daughter.
The story sways between scary movie to fantasy film to regular whodunit. It took producer Beau Flynn more than 15 years to finalize the film, which plays in 34 different locations in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. He said, “Solace is the kind of story which encourages viewers to relate to the message, where they can identify with the characters.” See if you agree. (Becky Tan)