"Dot the I" begins with a beautiful, willfulbut vulnerable Spanish immigrant to London accepting the proposal of hersweet, adoring and doting English boyfriend -- then being knocked for aloop by a kiss from a stranger at her bachelorette party.
This kiss has lyrical cinematic brilliance as it lingers-- the outside world shut out for a spellbinding moment -- until a suddensound snaps the startled smoochers back to reality. It's a kiss that changesthe lives of Carmen (Natalia Verbeke) and Kit (Gael Garcia Bernal), himselfan immigrant from Brazil who represents a passion lacking from the girl'srelationship with Barnaby (James D'Arcy). But the relationship with herfiance makes her feel safe in the wake a violently abusive past that sneaksup on her psyche from time to time.
The emotional complications of this love triangle are engrossingand deeply heartfelt, and Carmen's character is vividly drawn, with Verbekeinfusing her with a style that makes army pants seem incredibly sexy andan irresistible spirit of newfound empowerment, albeit tinged with stormymelancholy of growing inner turmoil. Writer-director Matthew Parkhill creativelymixes film and low-end digital video (impoverished aspiring-filmmaker Kithas a habit of keeping a video diary) to provide a first-person immediacythat is at once sweetly romantic and a little creepy. And even though themagic between Verbeke ("The Other Side of the Bed") and Bernal("BadEducation") is slightly undermined by bothactors' awkwardness with English, their attraction is downright addicting.
But Parkhill thinks himself a little too clever at times(a reference to "The Graduate" is painfully telegraphed), andthat fault turns out to be a warning sign for the fact that when "Dotthe I" takes a wild and ambitious left turn, the film begins to fallapart, weakened by a thousand small but collectively insurmountable plotholes.
Parkhill manages to undermine sympathy for every character-- which may be deliberate, but if so it's a bungled effort creating anair of directorial conceit and contempt. He also undermines the increasinglycomplex story by revealing that it's based entirely on one character inexplicablyplanning for coincidences and repeatedly guessing exactly how the otherswill behave. In the last act, "Dot the I" reaches a climax sospecious and elaborate that in order for it to fly, two characters seemto chuck their principles entirely and people not connected in any waywith the love triangle have to behave exactly as predicted months in advance.
While more conventional moviegoers may react negativelyto being blindsided by the movie's unexpected turns of events, Parkhilldeserves admiration for having the audacity to take such a risk. If executedin a way that would stand up to the scrutiny of common sense (and didn'trely on under-developing the male leads in the first two acts), these risksmight have translated into rich rewards for those who prefer films thatdefy foredrawn conclusions. But while Parkhill's filmmaking remains almosthypnotic throughout, the increasingly nonsensical manipulations doom "Dot the I" to being a deftly made blunder.
Run time: 92 mins
In Theaters: Friday 31st October 2003
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment
Production compaines: Alquimia Cinema, Arcane Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 15 Rotten: 44
IMDB: 6.9 / 10
Director: Matthew Parkhill