Centigrade Movie Review
If you find your spouse annoying from time to time, Centigrade should come with a trigger warning: the movie, set almost exclusively within the confines of a car, is about a married couple trapped in a Norwegian snowbank for days (weeks?) with nothing to drink, nowhere to go, and very little to talk about. Needless to say, they don’t always get along.
Genesis Rodriguez and Vincent Piazza star in this claustrophobic film that adequately manages its limited room for drama--but never quite achieves the tension or conflict director Brendan Walsh was presumably shooting for.
Walsh and co-writer Daley Nixon build enough momentum to sustain the film’s short, but arguably not short enough, 98-minute runtime. Though the film drags for the first 20 minutes as the filmmakers scramble to set the scene, once the story gets into its rhythm Rodriguez and Piazza are given enough material to make things moderately compelling. Questions linger, such as why Piazza’s character is so hellbent against his wife attempting to break the car window to escape (wouldn’t anyone in such a situation do just that?), or how it makes any sense that this couple would decide to sleep on the side of the road, in the winter, in Norway, when the woman is nine-months pregnant (also, why did she travel to Norway, or how was she even allowed to travel, at this stage?)?
Where Centigrade falters is not so much in its execution but in its screenplay. It was likely a mistake to begin the film with the couple already trapped in the car; neither character is particularly likeable, but that may be because we never get a chance to see them interact as a happy couple. And the conflict that ensues is half hearted at best; what would have been more interesting to see is a story of a couple that was on the verge of breaking up, or have dark secrets to share, or something that would really make their lives insufferable trapped inside a vehicle for so long. Or go a different direction and focus on their survival efforts, with the two working more closely together to stay alive. Instead, they bicker, make seemingly poor decisions over and over again, and go to sleep.
Centigrade is a few degrees too low key to be worth a viewing. While mildly engaging, the drama and conflict fall far short of essential. Intriguing premise, but cold output.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.