Descent Zero Stars
Directed by Talia Lugacy
Written by Talia Lugacy and Brian Priest
Rosario Dawson as Maya
Chad Faust as Jared
Marcus Patrick as Adrian
110 Minutes(Rated NC-17 for a brutal rape. )
"Descent" is causing so much controversy from its screenings at the Tribeca Film Festival, but the description of the film just did not jump out at me when I was paying twenty dollars per film. Now that it has been given a limited release-two theatres in the whole country-it stands to reason that I pay half of that to see it. But I wish I just avoided it in the first place because this is easily one of the worst movies of the year, and one of the most unpleasant things I have had the misfortune of seeing out of every film I've seen in my life-and that adds up to about 1650, give a little bit. This is trying hard to be an edgy thriller and a powerful character study, but it has a terrible screenplay and a starring role by Rosario Dawson which is over the top and silly. I could not take a single moment in this film seriously.
Dawson plays Maya, a young single college girl who is approached at a party by Jared, who says that he has had his eye on her for months after seeing her on a cold day, laughing while reading a letter. Maya is flattered and agrees to go out with him. Things seem to be going well during dinner, but when they go back to his place for some wine and begin to fool around, Jared ends up raping her. We flash ahead to a few months later and Maya is still traumatized by the event. She has cut her hair, got a job at a clothing store where she folds all afternoon, and seems to reject any proper social events. She spends her evenings in bars and clubs where she flirts and sleeps with many men, drinks until she's passed out, and wakes up not remembering much from the night before. And then she becomes a teacher's assistant at the college and ends up coming into contact with Jared again. And this is where she begins to put her plan of revenge into action, and make Jared pay for what he did.
Now you could probably divide "Descent" into three parts. The first part is before the rape sequence. Maya is a typical college girl and we have the typical college scenes. She is reading a book. She is talking to her mother. She is at a party with a girlfriend-who seems to be hitting on her for a reason that we never return to. She goes to her classes. It's very straightforward and makes a good foundation for the character study that we should be treated to after the rape. The middle portion is Maya's oblivion-where she is always drugged up and partying. This act is dull and not handled well. I had a hard time believing that Maya would change this much after the incident because the incident was not depicted in a way that would justify her downfall. Plus the endless dancing she does and drinking became tedious, and the thirty minutes spent here was tiresome. The third act is her revenge and this is where the film just becomes plain impossible to watch. Her eventually vengeance is overdone and takes up about twenty minutes of you're life. I understand that what Jared did was unforgivable, but what she does to him in the end is so harsh and cruel and unpleasant to watch. And this is how the movie ends-right in the middle of what she does to him. And that's it. You are left with a sour taste in your mouth that will not go away no matter how hard you try.
I understand that this is a dark dark tale, but the script by director Talia Lugacy is trying too hard to be edgy and original. It is trying too hard to leave a mark on your mind. I do not have a problem with scenes of graphic nature, but they have to work in the context of the film. With such a bad script I was hoping for Rosario Dawson to be a focal point-something positive in this mess. But her character is so inconsistent. During the second act she seems worse than she is later on. I never felt like I was watching the same person. All of the three leads-or main characters really-are terrible to watch. And the character of Jared is just plain stupid. When the two of them meet again he agrees to go out with her when she asks. Is he really dumb enough to think the girl he raped a few months back would be interested in him and want to see him again? This film shatters the realm of believability and becomes strictly fantasy-and a dark and grim and horrible one at that. Skip "Descent" unless you really want to see for yourself what the revenge against Jared is. But be warned. It isn't pleasant-for Jared, for the viewer, or for me. It's just plain unwatchable.