Gala / European premiere


  • Rowan Woods /
  • USA /
  • 2008 /
  • 100 mins

Kate Beckinsale, Jennifer Hudson, Guy Pearce, Forest Whitaker, Dakota Fanning / Fiction / English

An all-star cast expertly traces the fallout from a single tragic event.

The first American project from acclaimed Australian director Rowan Woods (The Boys; Little Fish), Fragments follows the witnesses to a shooting in an LA diner. Anne (Dakota Fanning) finds solace in faith; Charlie (Forest Whitaker) is intoxicated by survival; and waitress Carla (Kate Beckinsale) attaches
a little too much to her married doctor Bruce (Guy Pearce), who has his own secrets. Complex, thoughtful and beautifully performed.

2009 Archive

Image from Fragments

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  • #1 Paul Laird / Tuesday 23 June, 2009 / 22:47 GMT

    I was unaware of Rowan Woods until this evening.

    Here we have a director who has made a film that is emotional, spiritual, philosophical and engaging.

    That's no mean feat especially when it is loaded with more stars than the latest edition of "Heat".

    Several characters lives are thrown off balance when they are witness to a shooting in a small town diner...from that moment on it becomes a little Altmanesque as we follow their lives in the aftermath of this traumatic event.

    It's a simple premise but from it Woods produces a film that will provoke discussion from the audience and where the presence of the stars doesn't distract you from the stories.

    The stand out performance comes from Dakota Fanning who is fast becoming an actress of some considerable ability and range. To go from superhero franchise wannabe fare like "Push" (which was a cracking little film!) to something as "deep" as this proves that this is a young woman with genuine talent.
  • #2 Leona Campbell / Tuesday 23 June, 2009 / 22:56 GMT

    This is an extermely intense movie. It is one that has to be seen to be trully experienced. The characters are fantasticaly portrayed and they show the flaws of real life and wear this clearly throughout the movie. As always Forest Whitaker gives an amazing performance but even a star as huge as he is can't shadow Dakota Fanning who really gives an amazing performance.

    The film brilliantly doesn't tie up all the loose ends into a nice bundle at the end of the movie and leaves you with so many unanswered questions that you will be left wanting to understand more about the characters you've just been pulled in by.

    The sound effects in it are also amazing and I personally loved the fact that every time a gunshot went of you were shocked by the power of the sound - very powerful.
  • #3 Caroline Armstrong / Thursday 25 June, 2009 / 12:01 GMT

    I have to disagree with #2, I felt it tied everything up far too neatly at the end. It was like they'd had three days of going off the rails then everything was perfectly fine again. I didn't have any unanswered questions at all. The film got more intense throughout, as though building up to a big twist reveal ending but it never came, everyone realised the error of their ways and went back to normality.

    Having said that, the rest of the film was beautifully shot, brilliantly acted and showed a variety of lives affected in different ways by one event. I'd recommend this film to anyone if they'd just change the ending to reflect the climax which had been hinted at throughout.
  • #4 Mike Hall / Thursday 25 June, 2009 / 17:35 GMT

    Attracted by the ensemble talent on offer, together with an interesting narrative premise, Fragments looked like a safe bet. The promising opening left the viewer in little doubt that in such a horrible situation a) there but for the grace of god go I, and b) bearing first-hand witness to an unexplained and seemingly random shooting must unleash a spectrum of traumatic reactions in any group of strangers. But - and it's a really big 'but' - I fear that only in America would such subsequent emotional lid-blowings include poisoning your wife, disappearing off on a casino binge, or developing a messiah-like and very 'adult' god complex when you're only 9 years old. Yawn. Call me a stiff-upper-lip-Brit if you like, but where did all this bullshit come from? It says more about the geographical isolation of USA than anything else.

    Any redeeming features? Well the director Rowan Woods managed to weave the various narrative threads together seamlessly enough, and at least it was only just over an hour and a half long, even if it did feel like double. To my mind though, Woods didn't manage to generate any degree of empathy for his characters, and I was left wishing the gunman had blown away a few more of the diners' customers, to save us all from such turgid twaddle.

    So in summary - dear oh dear America, you really do need to get out more. And I don't just mean day-trips to Canada. Meantime, if the reader wants to see a decent film about random shootings, then can I suggest you grab a copy of Gus Van Sant's 'Elephant' off E-bay instead - it's far superior to this self-indulgent drivel. 3/10.
  • #5 Paul Laird / Sunday 28 June, 2009 / 00:08 GMT


    I didn't think this film was about a random shooting and I was equally unaware that there was anything random about the events portrayed in "Elephant".

    To see this film as being in any way about a random shooting would explain your "rating" of 3/ should consider writing for "Empire" they still score films too, as if it means anything. This film is about people, family and loss...the shooting is neither here nor there.

    People who are exposed to extreme situations behave in extreme ways. The "casino binge" was not out of character for Forest Whitaker as he had a gambling addiction (you may have missed that part of his back story), the poisoning of the wife was not, unless I am mistaken, anything to do with the shooting but was more to do with the fact that Pearce had deliberately "nicked" an artery during surgery on the shooter and as for Dakota Fannings religious leanings they too were part of her back story and not "new" developments.

    Your anti-USA leanings are all too obvious I'm afraid Mike and perhaps instead of encouraging America to get out more you need to go to America more.

    I like your line about more diners being shot to save you from having to watch the film...that's another one that would go down very well at "Empire" You should submit this to them.

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