Premonition (2007)

Rated: PG-13 .Grade: CBBC=B-

Starring: Sandra Bullock, Julian McMahon, Shyann McClure, Courtney Taylor Burness, Nia Long, Irene Ziegler, Amber Valletta, and Peter Stormare.
Summary: A housewife experiences waking up one morning to discover her husband has been killed in a car accident, but when she reawakens the next morning it has not happened yet. As she tries to piece together what is happening to her, she also must wrestle with discovering a way to prevent the tragedy as well as deal with her own frustrations with other things she learns along the way.

Entertainment Value: C This is a decently entertaining movie, but I had two main problems with it. The first is that Linda seems totally incapable of figuring out what is going on here and never seems to grasp hold of the idea of just telling her husband what she’s experiencing. I’m not a big fan of movies where failure of the main characters to do the most obvious things becomes a central element in the plot. Second, the ending. Hated it. Hated it so much that I immediately went to the DVD special features expecting to find one or even two alternate endings so I could at least forgive the creators for picking the wrong ending rather than never even considering it. Apparently they never considered it.

Superficial Content: B Drugs/Alcohol B, Sexuality B, Violence C, Language B, Illegality N/A. Okay, it’s a creepy and slightly scary film that no child should watch. But it’s rated PG-13, so this we already knew. The violent elements include a bird being found dead and bloody, a casket coming out of a hearse with the body falling out with a severed head (but implied more than shown), a young girl having her face lacerated in an accident, a woman being restrained in a mental hospital, and a car crash where things are more implied than shown. Also, there are a couple of romantic scenes with a married couple and some not-quite-nudity, and the possibility of infidelity is implied. Language is mild mostly. Alcohol is consumed sometimes.

Significant Content: B The lessons and worldview here are mostly quite good. Even though marriages have their difficulties, it’s never too late to make things work. It’s important to have faith in something outside yourself. But clearly the main theme in the movie is the importance of choosing to fight for the things that matter the most rather than giving in to despair, and the importance of making right choices based on that. But my favorite theme in this movie is the contrast shown between religion and science. When she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her, Bullock consults with both a psychiatrist and a priest. The priest gives her very useful counsel, whereas the psychiatrist tries first to medicate here and then to commit her. It’s not an emphasized theme, but the endorsement of a religious perspective is clear. And I love a movie which simply acknowledges the possibility of a supernatural reality without making it ludicrous in this naturalistic society of ours. The only negative I see here is that the object of faith is never specified and the idea that fate is fate also bothers me.

Artistic/Thought Value: C Although in the end I liked that they didn’t ever even hint at offering an explanation of the phenomenon she was experiencing, this movie had too man problems for me to really endorse it. As I mentioned before, the plot concept was transparent to me from the beginning. The acting and some of the plot non-developments seemed flat. Some of the things in the movie seemed fated to happen whereas others were open to change. And I particularly didn’t like seeing a girl with so many face wounds. But one of my favorite redeeming elements here is the fact that it is actually a movie about redemption. Doing more than is required of you and not giving in to the temptation to do what is justified is the definition of marital love, and such love is shown. As a philosopher, the fact that a character would ponder the distinction between killing and letting die was nice, although I wish it had been explored just a tad more.

Discussion Questions:
~What in your life is not currently going as well as you would prefer that could be improved if you would choose to take a more active role in making it better?
~Is faith merely believing in something greater than yourself? Does it matter what the object of your faith is?
~The Matrix is replete with the concept that we have already made our choices, the task is to understand why we made them. How might that concept fit or not fit with this movie?
~What is the moral difference between actively killing someone and letting someone die whom you could save? Is there a meaningful difference?
~Does this movie improve, harm, or have no impact on your view of God, clergy, and medical doctors?
~Is it accurate to call medical doctors a kind of priesthood in our society? Is this a label they would be comfortable with? Why or why not?
~Science tends to think that people who are convinced they are experiencing supernatural phenomena are insane to some degree. How does this bias prevent them from being open to the possibility that there is more to the world than what we normally see?
~Why did the creators choose the ending they did? Do you think that Linda will live her live more or less satisfied now as opposed to the other alternatives?
~Do you believe that we can change the future by our choices today, or is everything already determined in advance?
~Do we have the ability to prevent every bad event from occurring if only we can plan well enough?
~Jesus seems to indicate that the desire to sin is as bad as the sin itself, but should people be held accountable for what they strongly intend to do or only for what they do?
~Does a lack of faith in God open people up for being more vulnerable to dark or sinister forces?
~What does the platter symbolize in this story?

Overall Grade: B- Like I said. I despised the ending, although I recognize that it is in some ways the perfect ending and one which could not easily be changed without undermining much of the rest of the movie.

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