Standing on a sinking ship, Keanu Reeves watches as his latest big screen endeavour, ill-fated long before its theatrical release, sinks to the ignominious depths of the so-bad-it’s-just-plain-bad. First time writer-director Gee Malik Lindon had his name removed from this debut feature after Lionsgate opted to chop and change the whole project, scared as they were of the English/Spanish bilingualism of the script, choosing to lay greater focus on Reeves’ NYC cop, Detective Galban, whose español, by his own admission, “fucking sucks”. Originally titled Daughter of God, the end product is Exposed. The irony is that the studio’s suitably generic title was presumably chosen in the hope that this dull, misguided and poorly executed supernatural-cum-divine-cum-police drama nightmare slips under the radar and onto Netflix as soon as possible. Or, better still, never saw the light of day.
Although Linton assumed the Alan Smithee-style pseudonym Declan Dale to protest the butchering of his creation, it’s hard to see how Daughter of God/Exposed could have ever been anything but a stinker given the sheer ridiculousness of the plot. Falling somewhere between a poor man’s Pan’s Labyrinth and Law & Order, it flip flaps in a jarring and incoherent manner from Galban investigating the death of his corrupt, rapist, all-round despicable former partner, to the story of Isabel (Ana de Armas, who starred alongside Reeves in Eli Roth’s Knock Knock), a nursery school teacher who experiences visions of freakish angels and becomes pregnant despite her soldier boyfriend’s long- time posting to Iraq. The reaction of her devoutly Catholic family, and the community at large, points to infidelity over a belief in the miraculous, conforming to a more rational, earthly realism whilst the supernatural elements elsewhere take us in a completely different direction from any possible divine intervention.
Cinematographer Trevor Forrest does his best to render Exposed aesthetically pleasing but much like the disparate plot lines the cold, steely colours of Galban’s police world and the more vibrant, homely Hispanic community stand in such contrast that patching the two together is impossible. In perhaps the oddest narrative decision, Galban believes Isabel witnessed the killing of his partner but chooses not to question her until long after interest levels have waned completely. Reeves’ stern gaze and stiff-jawed reticence echo ghosts of wooden performances past, Mira Sorvino appears as a vulgar-mouthed widow and, despite her best efforts to elicit sympathy, Ana de Armas is caught in the headlights of a lousy script and all-round disorganised mess. Elsewhere there is talk of sodomy in a butcher’s shop, a grievous attack to rival that scene in Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible and suggestions of child abuse which only compound Exposed as a truly unpleasant and unfulfilling watch in every way possible. Aiming for somewhere between the sacred and profane, it lands fully in the latter camp.
Matthew Anderson | @behind_theseens