It’s been over five years since Ronnie Chase was killed on prom night; he may have been the only person to die in the accident, but in the following years his family has fallen apart. Richard left Charlene and moved to Florida with a younger woman. Ronnie’s brother Phillip moved to New York, following the dream they shared, but following a bicycle accident he is now back home in Charlene’s living room with his leg in a brace and walking on crutches.
His mom still angry at the world and ready to take it out on anyone who ventures near, her sole surviving offspring given an unwanted front row seat for the spectacle and the backlash, a surprise visitor initially brightens his day, Melissa, Ronnie’s girlfriend at the time of the accident, just back in town and thirty-nine weeks pregnant with an impossible baby her psychic told her is Ronnie’s.
Understandably, Charlene reacts badly, refusing to believe Melissa’s tale that “some strange miracle has happened because of Ronnie, because of our love,” and while she researches virgin births Philip looks into the alleged psychic, but digging into a mystery looking for truth is only going to bring up lies and deception close to home.
Directed by Rowan Athale from Eric Garcia’s adaptation of the novel of the same name by John Searles, Strange But True is described as a noir thriller but is couched in the language of faith and scepticism, opening with Melissa’s existentialist ponderings of life, god and eternity, but any hope of profundity or depth is rapidly sideswiped.
Starring The Leftovers‘ Margaret Qualley as Melissa, The 5th Wave‘s Nick Robinson as Phillip and Birdman‘s Amy Ryan as Charlene with support from The Anomaly‘s Brian Cox, it’s less of a thriller than a glacial family drama that after an hour of sad faces and red herrings finally settles on a direction far less interesting than the potential of the premise.
The flashbacks to prom night tedious and adding nothing except unnecessary additional length, certainly no revelations pertaining to the plot, the emotion is generic and the sole twist a disappointment played too early leaving the film to drag through another half hour to an obvious conclusion, less Strange But True than sad but true.
Strange But True is available on digital download now