– Summary –
Director : Erik Van Looy
Year Of Release : 2014
Principal Cast : Karl Urban, Wentworth Miller, James Marsden, Eric Stonestreet, Matthais Schoenarts, Rhona Mitra, Rachael Taylor, Isabel Lucas, Valerie Cruz, Elaine Cassidy, Kali Rocha, Margarita Levieva.
Approx Running Time : 108 Minutes
Synopsis: Five married guys conspire to secretly share a penthouse loft in the city–a place where they can carry out hidden affairs and indulge in their deepest fantasies. But the fantasy becomes a nightmare when they discover the dead body of an unknown woman in the loft, and they realize one of the group must be involved.
What we think : A bunch of idiots find a body in their secret sex palace. Naturally, concern for the woman is misplaced, leaving only self-preservation the emotion needed to survive this mystery. Ugh.
Keeping secrets is bad. Having an affair, that’s murder.
What begins promisingly as a sexy erotic-thriller-mystery, soon turns into a hateful, benign, flavorless B-movie that offers little to excite, titillate, or entertain. The Loft’s bold premise offers somewhat misogynistic comeuppance as its platform of choice, presenting a quintet of supposed friends whose lives begin to unravel after a woman is mysterious murdered at an apartment they all share. In what must surely be a first for a Hollywood production, two Aussie actresses appear here – Isabel Lucas (you may remember her as the female transformerbot who tries to get jiggy with Sam Witwicky in Revenge of The Fallen) and Rachel Taylor (who was the blonde science girl who decoded the Decepticon signal in the original Transformers) both have roles in this, alongside their American counterparts. Yet, perhaps fatefully for both, this film offers very little by way of dramatic… er… loftiness for either actress, and mires itself in salacious silliness when it could have been really good.
Five married men – Vincent (Karl Urban), Luke (Wentworth Miller), psychiatrist Chris (James Marsden), Marty (Eric Stonestreet) and Chris’s half-brother Vincent (Matthias Schoenarts) – share ownership of a luxurious loft, where they engage in extramarital affairs with impunity. However, after a woman (Isabel Lucas) is found murdered there, each of the five men find themselves trying to unlock the why and who of it all.
In a twist that should surprise exactly nobody, the 2014 version of The Loft is a remake – the same story (and director) made this film in 2008 as a Belgian production named similarly, Loft. Obviously somebody at a production studio somewhere liked it enough to want to throw it into the Hollywood meat grinder, and thus, The Loft was given life. Erik Van Looy, who helmed the original, saddled up for another shot at the story that doesn’t translate as well into American as it obviously ran in Europe. The premise of five guys all using a loft as a secret sex dungeon where they take their mistresses and girlfriends (to stay out of the eyes of their wives) is distinctly European in flavor, and most of doesn’t ring true here.
This film aside, the idea of infidelity is treated as almost a lifestyle choice by the men in the story, as if they’re incapable of keeping it in their trousers long enough to make it home to their “boring” spouses. Chris, the only one of the five with a doctorate, is married to f@cking Rhona Mitra, for God’s sake, so exactly why he needs to screw around behind her back is lost in the translation. I know a lot of European countries are more relaxed about wives and mistresses than America, so to find a lot of the dialogue and attitudes to it seemingly going against the societal norms, doesn’t quite fit with the slick studio production on offer here.
The bulk of the story is told in flashback, after our five genius philanderers make the discovery of a body in the loft. Each has their own issues with their home life – Chris’s wife, Allison, is uptight and dismissive of Chris’s friends, while Marty’s wife is a chatterbox who constantly belittles her husband. Phil’s new bride Vicky (Margarita Levieva) doesn’t like his friends either, although she’s the only daughter of a wealthy property tycoon. Naturally, through all the infidelity and sneaking about, suspicions arise as to who might be ultimately responsible for the young woman’s death.
Although The Loft tries to give itself plenty of plot wrangling to handle, the film’s lack of likeable characters works hard against it. I mean, five douchebags who willingly sleep with other women, try to hide it, and then act surprised when it blows up their faces? Nope, that’s not a set of characters I’m pulling for to succeed, really. Which makes the tension of the film evaporate; I’d have liked them all to be caught out in some way (the film’s finale is aggravatingly assured and clean) but the motive from this whole thing appears to be…. if you’re gonna have an affair, or be a male whore, don’t get caught with other men’s women.
As far as casting, The Loft boasts some impressive faces. Aside from the two Aussie girls, Lucas and Taylor, the male cast are all decent (Stonestreet, particularly, seems to be working hard against type from his Modern Family television role!) and the supporting female roles all provide suspiciously thin foundations for events to transpire. In this convoluted web of deceit and lies, The Loft certainly has its work cut out trying to establish convincing motivations for those involved. James Marsden’s poor face throughout the film seems permanently stuck in confused guilt, while Wentworth Miller’s nervous-tic character is as close as we get to a “twist red-herring” element.
The Loft is meandering, uncomfortably silly viewing primarily due to its overt misogyny. Boys acting like prats the entire time makes for tough going when there’s nobody you’re hoping will “win” in the sense that come out on top. It’s a dark, invasive journey into Boy’s Club stupidity, and offers very little compensation to viewers hoping for something worthwhile. The Loft is one location you’ll be best avoiding.
© 2015, Rodney Twelftree. All rights reserved.