Take a Drink: each time one of the five men say the word, “key.”
Take a Drink: each time one of the five men say, “our wives.”
Do a Shot: every time Luke (Wentworth Miller) creeps you out.
Shogun a Beer: when the camera shows the Latin phrase, “Fatum Nos Iungebit” (Fate Will Unite Us), written in blood on the headboard.
By: Amelia Solomon (Four Beers) –
The Loft is a highly sexualized modern-day thriller which centers on five married men who share a downtown loft where they can engage in sexual escapades and carry out their repressed fantasies, without their wives being any the wiser. The film stars James Marsden, as Dr. Chris Vanowen, who is both the film’s narrator and somewhat moral conscience, with supporting roles by Matthias Shoenaerts, Wentworth Miller, Karl Urban, and Eric Stonestreet. It’s an American remake and directed by Eric Van Looy, who also directed the 2008 Belgian film of the same name and which this Hollywood monstrosity is based on.
Everything is perfect, or so we think, until a beautiful blond woman, who’s gutted like a pig, turns up dead in the loft. Told through a series of flashbacks, the film turns into a Who Done It? mystery, as the five close friends begin to suspect one another and try to piece together what went so horribly wrong in The Loft.
The look of The Loft is crisp, vibrant, and unapologetically flawless. The five men, their wives, and their mistresses are all beautiful specimens who look like they’ve walked off the pages of a photo-shopped magazine cover. The downtown location, where the loft is, also exudes sexiness as the towering skyscrapers light up the night sky. This so-called slick style was an obvious choice by director Van Looy and it works well for a sexual thriller. In fact, it looks so well done, that it feels like I’m watching one long Audi or BMW commercial.
The mark of any successful thriller is whether it creates tension and keeps the viewer guessing. Having low expectations for this film, which was based on the combination that it’s a January release, that no one would even see the film with me, and that I saw it in a mostly empty theater, with only four other people that I was convinced were only there to review it for their blogs, I was determined to figure out the ending of the film from the moment I sat down in my seat. But I couldn’t. I had some good guesses, but I have to admit I couldn’t predict the ending and I appreciate that the film had not one, not two, but three twists. Maybe I need to brush up on my Agatha Christie novels or play some rounds of Clue, but I have to give credit to The Loft for being unpredictable, at least in its answer to Who Done it?
It’s common with many mystery or thriller genre films to have lots of holes. However, this was not the case with The Loft. The problem was that it lacked clear exposition. With an almost two-hour running time, I’m not sure where the extra background on the characters would fit in, but some more explanation would have helped. For example, Dr. Chris Vanowen’s (James Marsden) wife was a complete and total bitch. I get that the Vanowen was supposed to be the only pseudo good guy in the film and his wife needed to be despicable for us to buy him cheating, but why was his wife like this? Why was their marriage at this point? Luke Seacord’s (Wentworth Miller) wife was a diabetic and Seacord had to periodically inject insulin into her butt. But why? This seemed unnecessary to the story, but if so, it needed to be expanded upon. Lastly, Vanowen starts an affair with a high-class escort (a.k.a. well-paid hooker), who happens to be the sister of a patient he’d counseled, that subsequently committed suicide. We are told this information, at the start, but it’s never touched upon again and it left me wondering if it fell on the cutting room floor.
Eric Stonestreet, of Modern Family fame, plays Marty Landry, a despicable overweight alcoholic that has no self-awareness, covets his best friend’s baby sister, and makes brash sexual jokes reserved for the men’s locker room in 1975 or on the Mad Men set in front of his wife and high-society women, with no regard for who he’s offended. Marty’s character is annoying, distracting, and too cartoonish. He steals scenes from his fellow actors and not in a beneficial manner. By hogging the camera, he detracts from the mysteriousness and tension the film is trying to invoke. I have to admit I didn’t realize it was Stonestreet while watching the film, but kept wondering, who is this asshat? Upon discovering it happened to be a sitcom star it all made sense, and this glaring problem lays heavily on the casting director and most likely director Van Looy, as well.
A film needs to garner empathy from its viewers by creating relatable characters. Even Marsden’s dreamy blue eyes can’t save this film from being beyond reproach. When faced with five characters, who cheat, lie, and possibly commit violence against women, the audience is never with them nor rooting for any of them to succeed. Maybe the director is attempting to punish them by having this murder take place, but their actions while trying to figure out who’s killed her make them appear more despicable by the minute. It’s nearly impossible to feel sorry for these guys. Which led me to a larger question: Is this supposed to be acceptable male behavior or are we supposed to think that all men are pigs? It’s a crappy message, and if I were a guy I’d be offended by the film. I didn’t walk out hating all men, I walked out thinking this really paints men, especially married men, in an awful light and in 2015 I don’t buy it.
If you’re looking for a film that definitely doesn’t pass the Bechdel test and want an example of why the original foreign film is always superior, than subject yourself to The Loft and ask yourself, why hasn’t James Marsden made anything better?