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  Movie Review

Knowing

By John Mulderig
Catholic News Service

NEW YORK (CNS) -- Director Alex Proyas' vastly ambitious, genre-melding drama, "Knowing" (Summit), appears at first to be a horror tale but becomes, by its spectacular though sobering climax, a haunting meditation on faith, sacrifice and family unity.

The opening scenes, set in 1959, are conventional chill-fest fare. Pallid misfit Lucinda (Lara Robinson) attends a brand-new elementary school whose dedication is to be marked by the burial of a time capsule. Invited, along with her classmates, to draw a picture of the future for inclusion in the collection, Lucinda instead covers her paper with a seemingly random series of numbers dictated by voices only she can hear.

Fast-forward to the present, where Massachusetts Institute of Technology astrophysics professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage), boozy and embittered after the untimely death of his wife in a hotel fire, is struggling to raise their son, Caleb (Chandler Canterbury), a student at Lucinda's alma mater.

At the ceremonial opening of the capsule, Caleb is handed Lucinda's document, which he brings home, only to have his father accidentally discover, during a late-night drinking session, that it contains accurate predictions of the dates and death tolls of all the major disasters of the past five decades. It also warns of three calamities -- one potentially global in its effects -- due to transpire in the near future.

Professed skeptic John, who has sadly informed his students that life is meaningless, is estranged from his Protestant minister father (Alan Hopgood), and he cannot bring himself to assure Caleb that the boy's mother is in heaven. But he is bewildered by the document with its predictions and sets out to avert the impending tragedies, eventually enlisting the aid of Diana (Rose Byrne), the adult daughter of the now-deceased Lucinda.

As their parents gradually come to grips with the horrifying implications of Lucinda's final prophecy, Caleb and Diana's daughter, Abby (Robinson again, but with a healthy glow), are hearing the same voices Lucinda did, and being visited by mysterious strangers.

The revelation of these visitors' identities -- and revelation is indeed the word -- changes John profoundly.

The script -- developed from Ryne Douglas Pearson's story by screenwriters Juliet Snowden, Stiles White and Pearson himself -- boldly promotes a religious, though nondenominational, message Catholic viewers will find congenial. The value of that message makes it acceptable viewing for older teens, despite the items listed below.

The film contains disturbingly realistic catastrophe scenes, brief sexual humor and a few instances of crude language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is A-II -- adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

- - -

Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. More reviews are available online at www.usccb.org/movies.

END


Copyright (c) 2009 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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