With his debut (and possibly final) feature Exposed, Declan Dale has attempted to blend together what appear to be three entirely separate narratives into a concise ninety minutes. That none of these narratives has a plausible or coherent beginning, middle or end is seemingly irrelevant. But, credit where credit’s due.
The loose (in the loosest of loose senses) central plot of Exposed revolves around young woman Isabel (de Armas), who has many secrets, not least of which is that she keeps seeing curiously dressed albinos. Circling this is Keanu Reeves’ moody-but-we-never-know-why Detective Galban who is investigating the murder of his partner, while conducting an affair with said partner’s widow (a terribly clichéd and underused Sorvino). Finally, there is an unnecessary and convoluted gangster yarn involving mistaken identity and sodomy.
Despite there being a tenuous connections involving many of the same characters, none of the plot threads appear well thought out or delivered with any conviction. There is clear ambition here, but that in itself proves to be Exposed’s greatest flaw. Intertwining stories that, at different points in the film, involve immaculate conceptions, phantom children and serial rape never sit well together. Instead of the intriguing tale of guilt, corruption and dirty dealings that Exposed could have been, Dale has instead woven a story that comes across as pseudo-religious psychobabble nonsense that fails to engage on any level.
It’s difficult to be too disappointed with the cast but from the outset you find yourself wondering what the hell Keanu Reeves is doing in this film? After a recent resurgence, including the impressive John Wick and the surprisingly decent Knock, Knock (something that also stars de Armas) it is difficult to imagine what attracted him this project. One can only surmise that the initial script and subsequent production bear little resemblance to the woeful mess of a film that has actually been released, and therefore the bulk of the blame for Exposed must lie at the feet of Dale and his editor Diego Macho.
There is hardly anything in Exposed worthy of interest, and nothing that either warrants or deserves further discussion. It is possible, however unlikely, that somewhere there is a cut of this film that makes some semblance of sense and conveys the director’s personal vision with more clarity. If there isn’t, and this version of Exposed is exactly what Dale had in mind, then you fear for his future as a filmmaker.
Special Features: Behind the scenes
EXPOSED / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: DECLAN DALE / STARRING: ANA DE ARMAS, KEANU REEVES, CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD, MIRA SORVINO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW