Can we finally give John Goodman an Oscar, the man deserves one!
10 Cloverfield Lane stars Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Final Destination 3, The Thing), John Goodman (Monsters Inc, The Big Lebowski), John Gallagher Jr. (Short Term 12, Hush) and is directed by Dan Trachtenberg in his feature film debut.
Michelle (Winstead) gets into a car crash and wakes up in a bomb shelter. The two men she is with claim the world outside has been infected by an attack and she must stay with them for the foreseeable future.
This film is excellent. You have to know, 10 Cloverfield Lane isn’t really connect to the 2008 film Cloverfield. You could argue it is but it’s better to watch this film as its own entity and not expect a sequel/prequel/spinoff from Cloverfield. When you view it in that way, there’s a lot to enjoy about this film. I have some issues with the end but 95% of 10 Cloverfield Lane is perfect.
This is Dan Trachtenberg first feature length film and he did an outstanding job for his first outing. The main aspect I enjoyed about Cloverfield Lane was the gripping tension, that had me hooked all the way through. Trachtenberg’s storytelling was the main cause of the tension because just when you think you know what’s happening, the story twists and you’re uncertain again. For a large portion of the film, it has a very uncomfortable mood (in a good way) but then a couple of times you think everything is OK and you get hit by a gut punch and the original mood returns in a bigger way. I was enthralled with this story and it was because Trachtenberg created a scary, tense and occasional humorous atmosphere. Dan Trachtenberg was a name I didn’t know before this film but soon everyone will be singing his praises often.
Performance wise, this is practically a three person show. There’s one extra and a voice but other than that it’s just the three leads. John Goodman is terrifying. He’s a big guy, so his presence is towering over the film and when he towers over people it’s really scary. This role is similar to Goodman’s part in Barton Fink (which is my favorite of his), he brings that power and authority to every scene he’s in. In the simplest act like showing someone a picture, you can feel him controlling the characters and asserting his dominance. He does a great job at balancing nice and evil, to the point you never know if you should trust him. There are times you’ll think he’s a good guy and times you won’t, this is executed by Goodman perfectly and it’s going to be hard to find a supporting actor, who gives a better performance this year. The Oscars will never recognize this role but I’d be surprised if you don’t see him in my RJ Awards, come award season.
The other two performances are really great too. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is very good in this role and to be honest I’m not very familiar with her previous work. I’m definitely going to go back and look at some of the other films she’s been in because she showed she can hang with Goodman on an acting level. I enjoyed this character because she was vulnerable but when she needed to step-up, her strength came out and she holds her own. John Gallagher Jr. probably won’t be talked about as much because the other two performers are incredible but he gave a really solid performance. I liked him in Short Term 12 but again he was overlooked by Brie Larson’s powerhouse acting. He’s on the up and up, so it’s only a matter of time before he beaks out with a big role.
The story and scope of 10 Cloverfield Lane is very small. It’s a contained film (literally), so it builds and moves slowly. For me, I love these kind of films that drag you through them and keep you on the edge of your seat with twists and tension. It has a similar tone to Alien, where they’re are scenes with just characters talking with an overwhelming atmosphere. If that’s not your thing, you probably won’t like this film but if you’re like me, it will work on many levels.
The big point of discussion is the ending. I won’t spoil it but this is where the film lost a lot of people. For me I liked the ending but it went a little too far. I’m going to write another post, where I’ll discuss the ending in detail but for now I’ll say, I don’t think they earned everything they went for but I appreciate the effort. Similar to Midnight Special earlier this year, the first two acts of this film were so good, it was always going to be really hard to live up to what they built. The ending didn’t bother me as much as the ending to Midnight Special but it did take away a little from the overall film.
I loved 10 Cloverfield Lane. Like I said at the beginning, don’t go into this film expecting links to Cloverfield, it’s it own film and the title is only a cash grab to get people in the cinema. If anything, see this film for John Goodman’s performance alone, its incredible and will keep you guessing throughout.