Directed by: Erik Van Looy
Premise: A remake of the 2008 Belgian film. A group of five married men go in together on a flat and use it to carry on illicit affairs. Things take a turn for the worse when they discover a female corpse handcuffed to the bed.
What Works: The Loft is told in a nonlinear style with the filmmakers jumping all over the timeline. Despite the ambitious structure of the movie, it’s always clear where each scene occurs in the sequence of events. That’s impressive given the extent to which the movie leaps backward and forward on the timeline. The Loft is also well shot. Scenes are impressively staged and lit and the edits are done slickly with clever transitions between scenes. The opening of The Loft plays pretty well. The story sets up a potentially compelling whodunit; the five friends are the only ones with access to the apartment and they must interrogate each other with suspicions bouncing from one tenant to the next.
What Doesn’t: The Loft begins with a promising idea that could make for a great story or at least a compelling murder mystery but the movie quickly disintegrates into absurdity. Stories like this have been done before and done well as seen in Very Bad Things and Rope. But instead of concentrating on the pickle that these guys have found themselves in and working through it within the confines of the apartment, the filmmakers spend most of the movie telling the backstory of these five men. That’s what sinks The Loft. In the beginning of the film, the female murder victim is found naked, face down, and handcuffed to the bed. This is an apt visual of the characters’—and the filmmakers’—regard for women. The Loft would be better titled White Male Privilege: The Movie because its central cast is a group of chauvinist pigs. There’s not a sliver of charm in the whole lot of them and the filmmakers never put the audience on their side. Stories can be led by bad guys as long as they inspire empathy, as in the gangsters of The Godfather, or if those characters are fun to be around, like the title character of Richard III. But the group of men in The Loft are not empathetic nor are they any fun. If anything, the five leading men of The Loft resemble the cast of a 1980s sex comedy like The Last American Virgin. Each of the tenants in The Loft fits one of the character slots from a movie like that: the leader, the good guy, the fatty, the dweeb, and the bad boy. Given that the cast of The Loft are in their mid-forties, it is as if the characters of The Last American Virgin grew up to become these men but somehow haven’t learned a damn thing in the last thirty years and they certainly haven’t evolved in their regard for women. One of the main misfires of The Loft is that these guys have no reason to stray. Infidelity can be made credible and even understandable if it’s presented correctly as in The Bridges of Madison County or A Royal Affair but the men of The Loft have no reason to cheat on their wives who all seem pretty affable especially considering what they’re dealing with. It’s reiterated in scene after scene that these guys just feel entitled to a harem and they go about deceiving women and using them as discardable playthings. After scene after scene of the characters acting like entitled idiots, the scam finally blows up in the men’s faces and the filmmakers expect the audience to feel bad for them. It doesn’t work. The filmmakers return to the scene of the crime and force the movie through a series of idiotic and nonsensical plot twists. The intent may be to redeem the characters but it’s disingenuous at best. The characters are so off-putting that there is no reason to care about the murder mystery or whether these men lose their estates in divorce or spend the rest of their lives in prison.
Bottom Line: The Loft is an obnoxious movie that is botched in almost every conceivable way. It’s a two hour slog through a murder mystery that makes no sense with a cast of characters who aren’t the least bit likable.
Episode: #529 (February 15, 2015)