The adorable Brittany Murphy had a habit of choosing unusual dramatic roles for herself. While she excelled in comedy, she yearned to break through as a serious dramatic actress. She still needed some seasoning to get where she wanted to go, but there is no denying that she was capable of some memorable moments.
It must have been difficult, after Brittany’s death, to decide whether or not to release her final film. In the end, they chose to do so and I think they made the right choice. “Abandoned” proved that Brittany just might have eventually become the powerhouse actress she yearned to be.
“Abandoned” is about a young woman who drops her boyfriend off at a local hospital to have out patient surgery. As Mary (Murphy) parks the car, Kevin (played by Dean Cain) makes his way up to the surgical floor.
Mary no sooner arrives to soothe Kevin’s frazzled nerves than Nurse Amanda tells her she must leave so he can be prepped for surgery. Kevin begs his girlfriend to stay close by because he is terrified of hospitals. She, of course, agrees to remain as close as the hospital will allow.
Amanda then tells Mary to come back in about two hours and the surgery should be done. With no other option but to wait, Mary goes back downstairs for a cup of coffee. While there, she meets an older gentleman by the name of Cooper. He is there waiting for his wife’s chemotherapy treatment to be completed. The two strike up a conversation and spend a few minutes chatting before going their own separate ways.
Mary heads back upstairs to the waiting room. She sits there patiently as the minutes and hours tick by. When the room is cleared of everyone who came in after her, she decides she should check to see if complications might have slowed her boyfriend’s surgery.
It is then that she is told that there is no Kevin Peterson registered at the hospital nor scheduled for surgery. Mary gives the desk clerk the name of Kevin’s nurse and doctor as back up information. The clerk informs her that the doctor in question is on vacation and that they have no one named Amanda working there.
Mary meets with several different people, including the hospital administrator, seeking assistance in finding her boyfriend. They all end of telling her the same thing.
That is when Mary begins to panic. The hospital calls in the police and a detective by the name of Franklin tries to help her. However, the deeper he explores the situation the more obvious it seems that Mary may be making the whole thing up.
What ensues is a mystery that unfolds in ways you don’t quite expect. Mary refuses to back down and won’t allow herself to be caught by hospital security. She has only one goal in mind; to find the love of her life.
“Abandoned” isn’t great cinema. It isn’t meant to be. It is meant to intrigue, confound and confuse. It does that in spades. I honestly didn’t see some of the twists and turns coming.
Brittany was always excellent in roles where a lot of vulnerability was called for. She could muster that with a simple look in her beautiful eyes, the deflating stance of her body, a droop of her mouth and a dozen other ways. In this film she used all of her skills to their best advantage.
However, like the heroine she plays in the movie, Brittany’s fragile body belies her strength and courage. She had those personally in real life and she could definitely exhibit them on the big screen.
For a man who started out as Superman, Dean Cain has created a variety of characters over the years. He builds an interesting one in this movie as well. While I admit that he and Murphy are an odd couple, at first glance, their unique chemistry worked for this unusual turn of events.
Jay Pickett as Detective Franklin also delivers a good performance. He builds layers into his character with which the audience can relate.
The screenplay, written by Peter Sullivan and Jeffry Schenck isn’t totally unique. In fact it reminds me of one of my favorite B movies of all time “The Ambulance”, which starred Janine Turner and Eric Roberts.
Of the two films, the latter is the better vehicle but “Abandoned” has its own appeal. That might be due, at least in part, to director Michael Feifer. He builds the suspense in this drama with careful precision. That, along with Murphy’s performance, saves the movie in the end.
I liked this movie. The critics hated it. However, that is nothing new for me. I can tear down almost any film and find a grain of worthiness within it. Critics are often looking for something socially redeeming. “Abandoned” isn’t about that. It’s about making you think and feel. I like that. I give it two and one-half out of five stars.
RATING SCALE USED:
0 = A stinker. Don’t waste the money!
1 = Bad. Rent it at your own risk.
2 = Below average. See only if you have time to kill.
2.5 = Average. A toss up.
3 = Good. Worth a looksee.
3.5 = Very Good. I recommend it.
4 = Excellent. Don’t miss it!
4.5 = Outstanding. What are you waiting for?
5 = Destined to become a classic. You will be sorry if you don’t see it.