A guy I know caught a research screening of Rod Lurie‘s Straw Dogs remake the night before last at the Rave Cinemas (Howard Hughes center) and forwarded a highly positive review save for one complaint that seems premature because there’s time to do some finessing, etc.. Where’s the online trailer that was supposed to be up today?

Kate Bosworth, James Marsden.

“Firstly, Lurie has assembled a dynamite cast: James Marsden, Kate Bosworth, Alexander Skarsgard, James Woods and even Walton Goggins (who is absolute nitro-glycerin in FX’s Justified) has a small role. The fact that Lurie was able to attract this cast speaks volumes for his reputation. Is this an award-worthy film? No. Is it a good time at the movies? Yes. Could it be a great time at the movies? Hell yes. But in order to get there I need to wade into spoiler territory. [Deleted.]

“A Hollywood screenwriter (Marsden) and his wife (Bosworth) are moving into a home in his wife’s small rural hometown so he can write his new script, Stalingrad, in peace and tranquility. She had a small role in a TV show he once wrote but we get the impression she’s washed up now (she’s one of the many Straw Dogs in the film, a.k.a people who peaked to early but are now hollow and easily knocked-around and broken).

“Marsden is fantastic in the film. In fact, he’s never been better. He exhudes kindness and decency. He plays the soft city boy with a heart.

“The happy couple settle into their countryside mansion in the middle of a very isolated forest. In town, they run into Bosworth’s old flame (Skarsgard). Skarsgard is everything that Marsden is not — tall, rugged, manly and dangerous. The quintessential bad boy that all girls are attracted to in their teens but eventually grow out of… or do they?

“There are two themes running through the film. The first (and I’m not too sure I agree with this) is that a man can only be a man if he resorts to violence in order to defend his wife. Lurie straddles a dangerous line in the film by presenting us with a wife who is a provoker.

“Marsden kindly hires Bosworth’s ex-boyfriend to fix the roof of the barn… and then Bosworth proceeds to jog around the forest in skimpy clothing (no bra, barefoot). She then complains to her husband that her former flame and his crew of roofers are eye-raping her. Marsden ever so kindly (and he could’ve been an ass but wasn’t) suggests that maybe she should consider wearing a bra next time. Bosworth is obfuscated by this suggestion. So what does she do? Goes upstairs, opens the bedroom window and proceeds to strip in front of the Skarsgard and his crew. It’s an ambivalent, tough scene that says a lot about feminism, power struggles in couples and highlights that actresses (in real life and on film) are a loopy bunch.

“Therein lies the second theme of the film: Do women want the stable, dependable good-guy or do they have deep subconscious yearnings for a bad boy?

“So far the film is great. Fun set-up and as a writer myself, it’s fun to see Marsden create his writing workspace — chalkboard with scenes and notes in a lovely dream office, etc. Marsden is once again great in the film, despite his thankless role — the pussy-fied husband who must grow a brass-coated set of testicles by the end of the film so his Southern Wife can finally respect him (I’m serious)… and he eventually does, in a realistic, believable fashion to boot.

[Deleted comment about a scene our correspondent doesn’t like & wants cut out, etc.]

“The ending is gangbusters. Violent and very un-Lurie-like. Marsden rises to the occasion and all the plot strands come together. Woods is great as a drunken high-school football coach who doesn’t want his teenage daughter flirting with the local developmentally delayed man (Dominic Purcell).

“Yes, there is a fairly graphic rape. Yes, Bosworth is ambivalent in the scene. Does she fight off Skarsgard as hard as she could during the rape? Nope. Does she kinda like it? Sure seemed like that to me (which will surely infuriate the feminists out there). There’s also an incredibly satisfying final kill that involves a bear-trap.

Straw Dogs is a good movie that wants to be great…[excised comment]!”