'Deep Water,' 'Right at Your Door' and Owen Wilson
by Scott Holleran
A scene from Right at Your Door
August 31, 2007

Burbank, California—Multiple dirty bombs exploding in a coordinated attack on Los Angeles is the subject of the low-budget, independent Right at Your Door, a plodding affair despite the powerful premise. First-time director Chris Gorak, who also wrote the high-stakes marital drama—a husband and wife are separated during the attack—spins a story about how an emergency tests one's values.

A disaster can bring out the best or worst in a marriage and Gorak scores points for taking on a challenging idea. Rory Cochrane plays the husband, who's at home when bomb news breaks on the radio. Mary McCormack portrays the wife, a hardworking woman exposed to the toxic substances released into the air during the near-simultaneous strikes at numerous locations across L.A. As hubby seals the house according to the government's emergency broadcast instructions, wifey—who may have already been cooked in poison—is locked out.

Hence the moral dilemma—should he let her in and risk contamination; should she demand it?—and the theme questions the validity of just following orders. Anyone in L.A. who depended on the government for water and assistance during the 1994 Northridge earthquake knows how the grainy Right at Your Door will end, and it's far too staged and contrived, but Gorak has something to say.

So does the flawed but also thought-provoking documentary Deep Water, about a late Sixties British boating race around the globe, though, like Right at Your Door, it's not exactly life affirming. The IFC Films release uses original footage and old news clips to retrace the tragic nonstop competition with an emphasis on the participation of amateur yachtsman Donald Crowhurst. The race took place among several solo seamen and Crowhurst, whose wife and son are extensively interviewed here, was the least prepared.

A scene from Deep Water
The doomed voyage is revealing as a psychological character study, with the wannabe boater—completely out of his league but up to here in his own delusions of grandeur—at first glossing over incontrovertible facts in evidence, then lying, then explicitly cheating to save face. Many of his friends, family and supporters rationalize Crowhurst's dishonesty and the movie often floats in dead calm but the race's outcome—which was devastating for virtually every entrant—is nevertheless absorbing.

Crowhurst's boat, a modernist craft that he designed, was poorly engineered and seriously flawed, a fact which gets scant attention, and it reflected the sailor who took her to sea. The upshot of Crowhurst's errors and, more precisely, his repeatedly irrational choices, is not, as Deep Water asserts, that Crowhurst risked and failed—it's that he literally practiced his nihilistic philosophy that "the sum of a man adds up to nothing."

Owen Wilson

While Owen Wilson's reportedly recent hospitalization has been the subject of speculation, it's important to bear in mind that no one knows what happened and why better than the 38-year-old actor and writer, his chosen friends and family and his doctors. Whatever ails the Wedding Crashers star, he has the right to be left alone—a right Wilson has exercised and respectfully asked the press to recognize. As actor Samuel L. Jackson—being a good friend by visiting Wilson at the hospital—snapped to the media as he made it past the gauntlet this week: "why are you here?" Get 'em, Mr. Jackson, and please tell Owen Wilson to get well soon.


• Trailer - Right at Your Door
• Trailer - Deep Water
Scott Holleran Column Index

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