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Mainstream - Fragments

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Forest Whittaker, Dakota Fanning, Kate Beckinsale
Directed by Rowan Woods
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2009
100 minutes

I thought there was some kind of movie rule about having movies with the same title. There have been 9 movies titled Fragments made since 2004. This one, originally titled Winged Creatures (a really bad and inappropriate title) is a drama following the aftermath of a mass shooting at a local diner. Fragments stars some Oscar winning actors but of these only Forest Whittaker gets a starring role. Now available on DVD, Fragments is a very good drama if you like more European style American movies.

Fragments follows four survivors of a serial shooting in a small diner: Charlie, a Black man (Forest Whittaker), the waitress (Kate Beckinsale), Anne, a young teenage girl (Dakota Fanning), and a young teenage boy. Guy Pearce plays a doctor who left the diner a minute before the shooting. Each character reacts very differently to the trauma and that is basically what this drama is about.

Fragments is a bit on the long side but not by much. The viewer is asked to piece the events together in a series of flashbacks the various characters have and the entire sequence of events is dramatically revealed at the end. Easiest to understand are the reactions of Anne and Charlie (Whittaker). A little harder to figure out is what the waitress is up to. The teen boy’s reaction ends up being the core to understanding what happened that day.

This drama is on the unusual side for a Hollywood movie. It is a rather subdued film that doesn’t believe in a lot of exposition or any over the top dramatic performances. This makes each character quite believable and interesting. Fragments perhaps, only perhaps, tries to deal with one character too many but it is hard to criticize it for that.

Whittaker and Fanning are the heart of this movie. Jennifer Hudson is relegated to a very minor secondary role anyone else could have played.

If this DVD has one real weakness it is the rather explicit racism of the cop who keeps going to Charlie’s daughter’s place looking for him, implying Charlie is a suspect. This is unwarranted, annoying, and unnecessary in this movie.

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