Complete Unknown looks and sounds ordinary, but that’s the idea. Joshua Marston’s drama centres on dull people with dense occupations who are celebrating a birthday party for Tom, the most unlikable person within their social circle. However, the night is shaken up by an attractive, unknown guest.
This woman (played phenomenally by Rachel Weisz) talks with confidence and intelligence, yet Tom (Michael Shannon) is fixated on her for the wrong reasons. He interrogates her throughout the night, and she responds to his prying with answers that temporarily deflect until she is unravelled.
Before the dinner party, movie goers watch this mysterious woman take on different personas. Like Tom, we’re skeptical and curious. When the party goes awry, we lean in a little bit more. The tension is understandably awkward as people mutter accusations, which increasingly piques our interest.
When the movie separates Michael Shannon and Rachel Weisz from the group, Complete Unknown starts to take shape as one of Richard Linklater’s Before… movies; chronicling a blossoming relationship within a short span of time. Instead of copying Linklater’s form though, writer/director Marston riddles the dialogue with mystery and enough vagueness to make the audience question what type of movie they’ve really signed up for. Will this sedated story turn into a night of regret, or will this evening influence Tom’s regimented personality? The open-ended conclusion is satisfying and suitable.
Complete Unknown has us hanging on and we don’t ever want to let go.
Do You Tweet? Follow These Tweeple:
Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie