Alexandra's Project

Alexandra's Project (2003)

Genres - Drama, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller  |   Release Date - Aug 29, 2003 (USA), Feb 18, 2005 (USA - Limited)  |   Run Time - 103 min.  |   Countries - Australia  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Derek Armstrong

Suffice it to say that Steve will not be having a happy birthday. The title of Rolf de Heer's film tells us all we should know coming in: The female lead, Alexandra, is working on some kind of project as a birthday present for her husband. It involves sending the kids away and makes use of their high-tech home security system. And since Alexandra just spat at the bathroom mirror, imagining it to be her husband's face, this project isn't going to make Steve very happy. Watching what unfolds is the chief pleasure of Alexandra's Project, a film that induces plenty of squirming. Because so much of what happens cannot be anticipated, it's a difficult film to review in any detail. It's the kind of film you try to recommend with a generic "Just see it," since not knowing where it will go is crucial to the viewing experience. Because Alexandra's Project is categorized as a psychological thriller, it's fair to assume some twisted stuff will happen. But not knowing exactly what, or exactly how twisted, is key to the sense of mounting unease. Playing Alexandra, Helen Buday is disturbing and distant, her vacant stares speaking volumes about the possibly psychotic, possibly justified plan whirring around in her head. Cleverly, it's Steve (Gary Sweet) who de Heer casts as the viewer's surrogate -- without committing to whether he'll actually retain sympathy throughout. Sweet's reaction to the project demonstrates a real subtlety on the actor's part; he absorbs the various twists and turns in believable ways, without resorting to big gestures. There's something of the protagonist and something of the antagonist in both of these characters, and de Heer encourages viewers to shift allegiances multiple times -- even to abandon the very idea of allegiances in the case of two such guilty parties.