A film that was chopped and changed during the journey from script to screen, Exposed feels very much like what it is. Okay, almost EVERY film goes through a number of changes from script to screen but it's obvious that some are messed around with more than others. The different plot elements here are so badly mashed together that any attempt to provide a satisfying finale is undone by viewers realising how clumsily the main points are being made.
On the one hand, there's a young woman (Isabel, played by Ana de Armas) who is going through a pretty bad time of things. She's also a person of interest in an investigation being conducted by Detective Galban (Keanu Reeves) into the death of his partner. Unfortunately, that investigation may turn up a few details that people would like to stay covered up, and Isabel may be too busy trying to deal with recent events to be of any help. She has seen things that don't seem to belong to this world, has started to help a young girl (Elisa, played by Venus Ariel) who needs protection, and is also pregnant via some immaculate conception.
Written and directed by Gee Malik Linton (who changed his name for the directorial credit), Exposed is a mind-muddling mess, it really is. Nothing works, despite De Armas trying her best in a role that she is certainly capable of playing. The drama doesn't engage or affect viewers, the thriller side of things isn't thrilling, and you're left with a squidgy pan of flour and yeast that nobody has managed to turn into an edible loaf of bread.
This is, apparently, all the fault of the studio. Some people have managed to see the alternate cut of this (the version that was envisioned by Linton before the studios took it and chopped it up and made it unrecognisable). That is known as Daughter Of God and, if it ever becomes widely available, I'll check it out and see how it compares.
But, for now, this is what we're stuck with. It's atrocious. Reeves suffers the most, being given a role that should suit him (he's played cops who are heroic and/or shady a number of times) but with no feeling that he's in the same movie as De Armas. Remember when certain film-makers or studios would take movies and recut them with other movies to make a new title that they would then serve up to us, despite the way the end result would never quite fit together in any cohesive way? That's how this feels. On the one hand, you have Reeves, Christopher McDonald, and Mira Sorvino in a police procedural flick, and on the other hand you have De Armas. It's embarrassing.
There ARE one or two decent moments, scenes that move from reality to something strange and supernatural so smoothly that they manage to impress (an early scene with De Armas watching someone else in a subway station is excellent), but it's a real struggle to remember the few highlights once the film is over. In fact, it's probably as difficult as it was for the main actors to remember what kind of film they were starring in.
You can buy the movie here.
Americans can buy it here.