The Letter (2012)

(On Cable TV, May 2013) Stop the presses: It’s May, but I have already found my worst movie of 2013.  And probably 2012 as well, given how bad it truly is.  Oh, sure, there’s still months to go in the year… but I can’t imagine any other film approaching The Letter in sheer pointlessness, exasperation, and uninteresting actors.  Here, Winona Ryder stars as a playwright slowly losing her mind while developing her newest play.  Her anxieties about her lover, the actors working with her and her own talent are all reflected in the increasingly paranoid pages she gives to the actors.  To be fair, there’s a kernel of interest in this premise, and the potential through which it could be developed.  But hailing from the worst and most pretentious of the art-house film universe, The Letter strikingly fails to exploit any of the strengths at its disposal: Director Jay Anania doesn’t know what to do with a camera, the choppy editing makes the film near-incomprehensible at times, and none of the actors save for James Franco seem to know what they’re doing.  (The film’s lone laugh belongs to Franco, and it feels like an ad-libbed line.)  The plot make sense if you think about it long enough, but chances are that most viewers will never make it far enough in the film before turning it off.  It’s that bad.  I’ll gladly see dumb Hollywood crap over this kind of dull and pretentious trash.  Bring on terrible SyFy made-for-TV catastrophe films: My expectations for what is a bad film have been recalibrated. [January 2014: I still stand behind my assessment: The Letter is the worst of the 184 movies I’ve seen in 2013.]

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