Sometimes, you just need to go to Paris.
Tara (Gemma Arterton) is married to Mark (Dominic Cooper). They have two young kids who she attends to at home when her husband is away at work, making all of the money so that she doesn’t have to. When he gets home at night, he expects sex, and lots of it. These are Tara’s days, over and over again and it’s starting to catch up to her, where she’s losing her cool and feeling every bit as trapped. She can’t really talk to anyone about it, nor can she really seek any help, so she does what any woman in a pinch would do: Fly to Paris where, hopefully, she’ll gain some new perspective on life. She sure does, but for better, as well as for worse.
The Escape is much more of a mood-piece than it is a character-study or inside look. There’s dialogue, sure, but it doesn’t really matter much when the movie and the camera itself is squared so firmly on Arterton’s Tara, where all you have to do is watch her face, her emotions, and everything little thing she’s doing, to fully understand what this movie’s about and what it’s trying to do.
Is it total art-house? Of course. But it’s the kind that takes a big risk in depending solely on the talents of Arterton and finds it paying off because she’s so compelling, yet subtle, it’s hard for you to take your eyes off of her. Even when it feels like the movie’s way too intimate, raw and uncomfortable, Arterton makes you want to watch every little thing she does and it not only proves to be her most challenging role, but her most successful as well.
That said, the rest of the movie relies on her a little too much and it’s sort of where the Escape runs into issues.
For one, it’s a movie that deals with depression and family, but doesn’t quite have anything to say about either; we get the feeling that writer/director Dominic Savage depended solely on his style to get past any points he wanted to make, or ideas he wanted to explore. Cause of that, we get a lot of scenes that feel repetitive and timid, but that’s sort of the point and it helps draw home the fact that Arterton’s Tara is trapped in this own little world of hers, with two kids who won’t shut the hell up, an oafish husband who doesn’t know how to talk to her, or pleasure her in bed, and without anyone to talk to about any of it.
It’s quite sad and it’s why the Escape may be a tad bit unbearable at times. Even when it does seem to change its pace and its tone in the last-half, it seems a little too late; we’re already drenched in the gloom and doom as is, that to take a step outside of it, feels cheap. Savage does what he can to make sense of it all, but it all comes back to Arterton’s performance, as everything about her Tara rings true, even when the plot itself doesn’t quite.
But you don’t go to these movies for the plots, right?
Consensus: Though a bit limited on the insight, the Escape offers a tour-de-force performance from Arterton that helps it speak louder than just being another depressing indie-flick.
6.5 / 10
Photos Courtesy of: IFC Films