Friday, August 21, 2009

Fringe/The Crow Mill

One of the dangers of genetics is that as we learn to control the traits of future generations, we eliminate their beautiful element of surprise. Such is the case with Andrew Unterberg's The Crow Mill, which starts off with the happy, open-ended romance of Nathan (Quentin Mare), a geneticist, and Anna (Margot White), a therapist, and quickly turns into a dull thriller that questions what really happened in Nathan's childhood that made him so reluctant to become a father. Nathan's mother, Mia (Geraldine Librandi), has Alzheimer's, which means that it's only a matter of time before--in a stupor--she reveals the truth; the real question is how long one can stand sitting through thinly-veiled polemic on "designer babies" before getting there.

To Unterberg's credit, the big-picture idea--the pros and cons of choice, as written in our genes--is clever. However, his writing is inconsistent: sometimes it is artificially witty; sometimes it is naturally dull. Of the three, White acquits herself the best--her emotional part avoids the brash exposition of Librandi's role and the lifeless intellect of Mare's character. Eli Gonda's direction is fine, though muffled: one almost wishes for more of the exciting melodrama that occurs after Nathan gives an inflammatory speech.

On a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being "an abhorrent mutation" and 5 being "perfection in double-helix form," The Crow Mill gets a 2.

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