Dragonfly

PG13
Stars:    Kevin Costner, Joe Morton, Kathy Bates, Linda Hunt, Susanna Thompson
Director:    Tom Shadyac
Writers:    David Seltzer and Mike Thompson – Based on a story by Brandon Camp and Mike Thompson

Kevin Costner’s talents are not used to best advantage in this dire supernatural suspense. He has no charisma; there’s hardly a romance – he’s searching for his dead wife. And let’s just say a few chuckles in the beginning do not constitute playing to his sly humor.

Costner plays Dr. Joe Darrow whose wife Emily (Susanna Thompson) is a pediatric oncologist at the same hospital where he works. They love each other but she has a desperate need to go to the wilds of Venezuela to minister to poor people at the same time she’s pregnant with their first child. Not a smart thing to do. Joe’s makes his displeasure known. But off Emily goes and gets herself killed in a bus accident on a rain washed-out road.

For the rest of the movie Joe experiences deep sadness and endless strange communications and hints that maybe, just maybe Emily isn’t dead, maybe she’s hiding in a jungle hut, maybe she needs to remind him to take out the trash, maybe she really just hates poor Joe and wants to turn him into a loony long before Alzheimer’s sets in. But there is light at the end of the white tunnel.

The title of the film refers to the type of insect that Emily holds so dear. Now Joe is seeing dragonflies everywhere. Joe gets most of his messages from the cancer-ridden kids at Emily’s hospital ward and it’s his lot in this movie to figure them all out.

Next door neighbor and legal eagle, Mrs. Belmont (Kathy Bates) holds down the home fort for him and tells him that he’s simply grieving when he says he sees Emily’s ghost. Friend Hal (Jay Thomas) tells him that he’s grieving when he mopes at their favorite hangout and says Joe needs a vacation. Tough hospital administrator Hugh Campbell (Joe Morton) tells him that he’s grieving when Joe goes batty at the hospital and that he damn well better go on a long vacation before he gets himself fired. Poor Joe.

Nevertheless, Joe soldiers on, trying to figure out the various ghostly clues, particularly the squiggly lines the kids have drawn and placed all over their rooms at the hospital. He finally seeks out Sister Madeline (Linda Hunt) who has studied near-death experiences and believes that there is a “somewhere over the Rainbow” or at least something inside that tunnel of white light that the near dead often speak of.

Lotta says: Dragonfly isn’t all bad. It’s got a measure of suspense and I do like Costner but there are some really dumb things going on here. Watch Joe stumble around the house in scary darkness – turn on the light, already! Check out Joe’s water ballet near the end in a ridiculously long sequence that bends credibility to the breaking point. Maybe he needs to do another baseball movie. Nah, just a better one than this dark, musty stuff.

Reviewed 2/22/02