Weekly Alternatives: ‘Adrift’, ‘Salvador’ and ‘Heartbreaker’

I had not heard of Adrift until Brad posted this exclusive clip last week, but that was intriguing enough to convince me to check it out. Though the film is allegedly available On Demand, the only place I was able to find it was on iTunes. $3.99 later, what I found was a rather shocking melodrama with gorgeous scenery along coastal Brazil that further affirms Vincent Cassel’s status as one of the world’s finest screen actors.

Adrift centers on a teenage girl coming of age at the same time she notices her father (Cassel) having an adulterous affair with a much younger American woman played by Camilla Belle (10,000 B.C.). The film was produced by Fernando Meirelles (director of City of God and The Constant Gardener) and was directed by Heitor Dhalia, who will soon make his stateside debut with the Amanda Seyfried thriller Gone.

One thing I found particularly fascinating about the film is that it features a French actor (Cassel) and an American star (Belle, though she has very few lines) speaking Portuguese for the entirety of the film. I mean, how many languages does Cassel know? Well actually, Wikipedia tells me he also speaks Russian (which he learned for Eastern Promises) and Italian (which makes sense given his marriage to Monica Belucci). That’s still pretty impressive.

As for Belle, I’m sure she can credit the fact she’s fluent in Portuguese to her Brazilian-born fashion designer mother.

This week I watched The Bang Bang Club with the intent of mentioning it in this column. But apart from a riveting Taylor Kitsch performance, it offers little that hasn’t already been explored in far better films. It essentially asks (and beats into our heads) the same moral questions Oliver Stone did much more subtly and effectively in his breakthrough film 25 years ago.

Salvador, an absolutely brutal look at the 1980s civil war in El Salvador as seen through the eyes of an American journalist (James Woods in an Oscar-nominated role), still features some of Stone’s most powerful work. Every photojournalist dreams of shooting the cover for Time or Newsweek, but at what price do some of these images come? For Woods’ character, the horrors he captures with his camera provide the only opportunity for him and his Salvadorean girlfriend to have a future and make it out of the country alive.

Also, if you’re into special features, I recommend getting the DVD and watching the making-of documentary. It delivers some of the most candid footage and interviews I’ve seen.

I know most of you will line up to see Thor this weekend, but a few unlucky suckers will undoubtedly be persuaded to sit through the most recent tumble on Kate Hudson’s long fall from grace. My advice? Try to sell your significant other on this charming French romcom tailor-made for the Hollywood treatment (available on Netflix instant!) and save your money for the movies you really want to see. There’s bound to be plenty of them in the coming months.

Watch it now before the impending (just a guess) Bradley Cooper-led American remake hits the market in a few years. There are no legitimate casting rumors yet, so half the fun of watching the French version is thinking about who should portray these characters in the Hollywood version. I had more fun with Heartbreaker than with most any recent entry in the genre and if handled properly, the remake could make for the next memorable American romantic comedy. It even comes complete its own Dirty Dancing-related subplot!

For those who have seen the film, please disclose your casting choices for the American version in the comments. I’d love to compare and discuss!