“The Loft” is a puzzling film. At times, it’s completely awful; at others, it’s actually quite brilliant. Were it not for the blatant misogyny plastered on screen, the lackluster, disappointing ending, and the sub-par writing, “The Loft” may have been a lot better. The acting is actually quite good. Karl Urban (Star Trek Into Darkness, RED) and James Marsden (X-Men, X-Men 2) portray Vincent Stevens and Chris Vanowen, respectively, the two leading men of the five. Wentworth Miller (Prison Break, Underworld), Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family, Identity Thief) and Matthias Schoenaerts (The Drop) round out the rest of the quintet as Luke Seacord, Marty Landry and Philip Trauner.
It should be noted that “The Loft” has previously been made twice—one is a Belgian film released in 2008, the other in 2010 in The Netherlands (both previous versions were titled Loft). More interesting than that is the fact that all three of these films are nearly identical in plot, script (the same screenwriter and screenplay are used in all three), and sequence, particularly in regards to the 2008 and 2015 version. Both the original Belgian version of Loft and the United States remake of “The Loft” are not only directed by the same man, Erik Van Looy, but also share one of same main actors, Matthias Schoenaerts. The title sequence is even identical. It seems a bit superfluous to make a film in one country/language, then make it over seven years later in a different country/language. Then again, Hollywood is very good at remaking television shows and films previously made very well in other countries (House of Cards, for example, is one of the successful/well-done American remakes).
The basic premise of the story is supposedly every married man’s dream—a place, aka, “The Loft,” where five friends can live out their extra-marital affairs in private, in secret and with little-to-no expense. Basically a timeshare lover’s nest, or “fuck pad” as one of the female characters, Anne Morris, refers to it. This perfect arrangement is shattered when a woman is found deceased in The Loft’s bed. This of course begs the question—who does the laundry in The Loft? Certainly it isn’t sanitary for the same sheets to be used over and over by different people having sex; one of the intriguing and unexplained aesthetic points in this film.
There were times when this film piques the viewer’s interest; certain areas of the plot– basically most of the middle and climax of the film– keep you wondering what is going to happen next. This intrigue is aided in part by the cinematography. However, once the climax is about to hit, the suspense is sucked out of the film and the viewer is left sorely wanting (most likely a refund).
Fair warning—there is non-stop camera movement, literally. Even when the actors are standing still, the camera pans slowly and often circles around the actors while they move. Additionally, there are some rather bizarrely angled shots in “The Loft.” In fact, it’s quite nauseating; if one is susceptible to motion-sickness, going to see this film is definitely not a grand idea. However, though the camera movement is unabating, it serves a purpose. Through this slightly jarring movement, the viewer is constantly transfixed to the screen, filled with uncomfortable anticipation.
What is most frustrating is the lack of positive, dynamic female roles. The woman that is most spirited is seen as a “fixer-upper” and a “damsel-in-distress”—she is a prostitute and is portrayed as less of a valuable person because of her profession. Only when she leaves this line of work does she gain value in the film. The most interesting thing about Morris’ (Rachael Taylor) career choice is that she has complete control over her clientele and her relationships with them. Once she stops, however, she is immediately made vulnerable and basically powerless. The female characters in this film are all very one-dimensional. They are either nagging, needy, dim-witted, or femme-fatale-esque. They are merely there to be objects or to provide a visual for the reason these men are cheating on their wives. It’s upsetting and disheartening to know that it is still so hard to find women portrayed as equals on screen (and off screen).
Finally, “The Loft” fails to give the viewer a sense of justice. The “bad guys” really don’t receive ample punishment for their crimes. Perhaps the point of the filmmaker was to create undesirable, deplorable characters; however, if that were the case, one would think the consequences would be more severe. If there is a cautionary tale somewhere present, it has hidden itself very well.
The film is pretty to look at, barring the nausea, and including the eye candy. The actors do their best with what they have, and though the plot flounders, it keeps the viewer interested enough to wish for something more.
Claire Farrow can be reached at Claire.firstname.lastname@example.org.