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Perception (Unrated)

Release Date: January 20th, 2006 (Angelika Film Center) by Empire Pictures.
Video Release Date: February 28th, 2006.
The Cast: Piper Perabo, Heather Burns, Mary Beth Hurt, Seth Meyers, Kate Mulgrew, Ajay Naidu, Aunjanue Ellis, David Rasche.
Directed by Irving Schwartz.

BASIC PREMISE: (Perabo) must deal with her crazy life at home and with her friends after an accident that leaves her temporarily wheelchair-bound.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Over the course of Perception , Jen goes through more conflicts than the average person. Within the first act alone, Jan’s insane mother (Hurt) thinks her father (Rasche) is trying to her killer. Jen’s high-school sweetheart Steven (Meyers) shows up at her workplace just when she’s in a relationship with Ramona (Burns). Jen and Ramona run an animal rights organization without a business license. During a fight with Ramona, Jen accidentally gets hit with a big truck. Somehow, you’re supposed to believe that she survives the accident and just ends up in a wheelchair without any brain damage or disfigurement—she looks just as beautiful as she did before. Now, Steven tries to win her over by caring for her, but she still ends up depressed and refuses to see her psychiatrist. To kill time, she smokes pot with her rehab doctor’s assistant Vera (Ellis) and Ramona. It sounds like they would have had a fun time at Woodstock. Meanwhile, a hunky cop runs into Jen so often that you would think he’s stalking her. The plot gets more and more insane and unrealistic through time. During the unpredictable third act, everyone gets violently out of character, especially Ramona. On a positive note, the script has a few moments of realism, such as the conversations with Jen and her rehab doctor (Mulgrew). There are also fine moments when Piper Perabo—who always shines with her radiant beauty—delivers her lines with sarcasm and dry wit. If only writer/director Irving Schwartz didn’t try too hard to be different and unpredictable with an over-the-top conclusion that’s unfair to any of its characters.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Life can be very difficult and demanding at times, especially for Jen. Just like her mother says, when life pulls at you, you have to know when to push back a little. You may not be able to change life, but you can change the way you perceive it. Jen clearly doesn’t use the help she can get to change her dismal perception of life. Perception would’ve been much more thought-provoking and uplifting if she would actually see her psychiatrist and admit that she’s mentally unstable. Instead, she insists that everything is fine when she knows that it’s quite the contrary.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Convoluted plot and an improbable, over-the-top third act.


IN A NUTSHELL: Piper Perabo shines! However, a convoluted plot along with a messy, over-the-top ending ultimately makes for an excruciating and depressing film.


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