Picoult's Different Family Stone
Regular purveyors of my reviews will no I am not a great one for reading books and as such it shouldn't be a shock when I say I haven't ready Jodi Picoult's novel which "The Tenth Circle" is adapted from. But I reckon that without having read the novel I can safely say that something went wrong during the adaptation because "The Tenth Circle" ends up feeling like 3 weakly connected stories surrounding one family. Basically it doesn't feel right as we meander through the first part, get are interest raised by the second and can predict the outcome of the third the minute it arrives, don't worry I will explain more later on. As such I am sure those who have read Picoult's novel will find "The Tenth Circle" a poor movie and even those who haven't will struggle with its construction.
Trixie Stone (Britt Robertson - Dan in Real Life) finds herself being dumped by hunky sports jock Jason (Jamie Johnston) leaving her distraught, that is until her best friend Zepher (Haley Beauchamp) arranges a party so that she can try and get him back by making him jealous. But when she returns home from the party she tells her dad, artist Daniel (Ron Eldard - Mystery, Alaska), that she has been raped by Jason and whilst none of her friends believe her the police do and take Jason in for questioning. But soon Trixie's version of what happens is brought into doubt as secrets are uncovered and not just about the rape but also the entire Stone family.
So as I've already mentioned "The Tenth Circle" feels like 3 movies which are loosely connected and the first of these is the set up of the Stone family. We meet college lecturer Laura Stone who has one of the most impressive lecture halls I've ever seen and we also meet her stay at home husband Daniel who is an artist. Plus of course we meet Trixie there only child who is worried about a speech she has to give about her family and how she once thought they were normal but now realises they are not. None of which is what this first part is really about because what this set up delivers is the fact that Laura is having an affair and whilst once was in love with her risk taking husband is now bored by his conformity none of which is that interesting.
During the first part we also learn that Trixie has been dumped by her boyfriend Jason and this is really the main link to the second part of the story as we have her accusing him of raping her at a party. Now in all honesty this part of "The Tenth Circle" is quite good as we see how it affects all the family from Daniel having to stand outside the hospital cubicle whilst Trixie is examined and has to answer some upsetting questions with him in ear shot. Plus we see how Trixie is treated by those at school who think she is making it all up and ruining Jason's life in the process. But what is good is slowly we begin to question what happened, was she raped, was she drugged, was it Jason, did she lie and so much more. It basically works and whilst not the hardest hitting move ever made about rape it does a reasonable job of dealing with the emotive subject without going too heavy.
Then comes the third part of "The Tenth Circle" which as you can probably guess is how the Stone's deal with all the issues which come their way especially when it comes to Jason protesting his innocence. The trouble is that this third section feels like a different story another mystery storyline as events from both the present and past rock the Stone household. It's basically too separate to the middle part despite linking in places and in feeling like a separate story weakens what happened during the middle section. If I sound like I'm being evasive I am because we get a couple of twists during this third section, twists which are neither a surprise nor that good but are the basis of what happens.
What doesn't help matters is that whilst there are a few recognizable faces in "The Tenth Circle" such as Kelly Preston and Ron Eldard pretty much every performance fails to connect with the character they are playing. And because none of these characters come alive it all feels very ordinary at times emotionless when you expect much greater emotion. This may sound cruel but the performances not just from Preston and Eldard but also from Britt Robertson who plays Trixie and Michael Riley who plays detective Bartholomy are the sort of auto pilot performances you expect from a TV movie.
What this all boils down to is that "The Tenth Circle" ends up a very average and also disjointed TV movie which I am sure has lost a lot in the adaptation from book to screenplay. It's not a terrible movie and the middle section is surprisingly good but it does end up feeling like 3 stories which don't gel together very well.