INCONCEIVABLE * 1 / 2
Starring Gina Gershon, Nicolas Cage, Nicky Whelan, Natalie Eva Marie and Faye Dunaway. Screenplay by Chloe King. Directed by Jonathan Baker.
This twentieth anniversary Face/Off reunion of Gina Gershon and Nicolas Cage is hardly the campy feast hoped for from a VOD curiosity starring these two singular movie icons. All that passes for nostalgia here is that Inconceivable’s screenplay feels like it’s been moldering in a drawer somewhere for the past couple decades. A po-faced throwback to ‘90s nanny-or-roommate-from-hell thrillers like The Hand That Rocks The Cradle and Single White Female, this lugubrious retread stars Gershon as an upscale mommy and M.D. who takes in a runaway battered mother played by Nicky Whelan without doing much of a background check.
It shouldn’t take nearly as long as it does for a freakishly convoluted backstory to come between these two new besties. Meanwhile, flustered hubby Nicolas Cage doesn’t seem to mind when their new houseguest goes skinny-dipping after hours. The only suspicions are voiced by Gershon’s crotchety mother-in-law Faye Dunaway, and let it be said that any movie in which Dunaway plays mommy dearest to Nic Cage has no right being this boring.
Cage is disappointingly mellow here, sidelined in “the worried wife” role that’s usually played by Laura Linney or the like – shaking his head at exposition and furrowing his brow at regular intervals. He’s supposed to be a milquetoast suburban doctor, but one who of course has to wear a cool leather jacket and ride an awesome motorcycle because I’m assuming otherwise Nicolas Cage wouldn’t have taken the role.
Director Jonathan Baker –a first-timer whose IMDB page quite hilariously touts “his ownership of the #1 rated day spa in the country” and “intense passion for bringing people their fantasies of escape”– has no idea how to keep all this folderol moving along in a timely fashion. There’s none of the trashy energy that scenarios as ludicrous as this one need to thrive. Scenes are sometimes missing shots of important narrative information, to a point where it’s unclear if the intention is to mislead the viewer or just plain incompetence. Baker’s stiff supporting performance as a hospital co-worker of Gershon’s suggests a high probability of the latter.
Screenwriter Chloe King –daughter of Red Shoe Diaries and 9 ½ Weeks’ softcore impresario Zalman King—displays little of the old man’s lewdness. Whelan’s character is briefly presented as a predatory bisexual before the matter is depressingly dropped, which if you ask me is an incredible misallocation of resources considering that this is a movie starring Gina Gershon.
For her part, the star’s sheer charisma grounds a barely-written character in something resembling reality, and the movie provides ample room to lament that Hollywood has never quite figured out what to do with Gina Gershon. Such a shame. She’s got the dirtiest smirk in movies and hardly ever gets a chance to use it.