Never Saw It Coming

Gail Harvey’s latest movie Never Saw It Coming has a title so unintentionally fitting, it makes my head spin.

Harvey’s previous narrative feature was 2013’s Looking Is the Original Sin, a modest movie about an artist’s obsession and her relationship to her daughter.  It was a fascinating, moving character piece that kept me on high alert for the filmmaker’s next project.  I’m afraid Never Saw It Coming doesn’t live up to that anticipation, and actually falls way below exceptions.  The audience is given a crime thriller by way of the Coen Brothers, performed by preposterous characters who have all been fleshed out without a hint of self-awareness.  Each of these characters would feel at home within the confines of a Coen dark comedy but, instead, Harvey wants us to take the film (and everyone in it) seriously.

Granted, there are moments in Never Saw It Coming that are so wacky, it appeared the director figured out her own movie.  Such as when a malicious dullard feels the need to remind his murderous girlfriend that she owes him $5 for paying off a witness, or when a cop willingly leads a suspect through her crime scene though she’s more than certain they’re guilty.  Or, that over-the-top sequence featuring someone being killed by a sewing needle through their eye, or that other violent confrontation where someone is suffocated by a shelf overloaded with car tires. I feel confident in believing screenwriter Linwood Barclay is attuned to his dim characters and absurd circumstances, but there has been an obvious misunderstanding with how Gail Harvey has decided to interpret them through soapy melodrama.  If she does, in fact, realize the potential for dark comedy in her film, she’s holding back and not embracing Barclay’s challenge.

Never Saw It Coming may not be a worthy return for Gail Harvey’s long-form filmmaking, but it’ll be a hoot for those looking for a bizarre guilty pleasure.


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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie

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