Retro Film Review: Caught (1996)

in #film2 months ago


"The journey is more important than the destination" is a cliché invoked by film authors whose plots aren't particularly original. Sometimes it doesn't matter if plot revolves around all-too-familiar subjects and the endings could be guessed by even the least experienced viewers. The way those stories are presented to the audience is rewarding experience in itself. One of those examples is Caught, 1996 drama directed by Robert M. Young.

The plot, based on the novel Into It by Edward Pomerantz (who also wrote screenplay), is set in Jersey City. For young Irish immigrant Nick (played by Arie Verveen) American dream is reduced to things like simple roof over head and regular meals. Forced to live on the street, Nick is spotted by police and seeks temporary refuge in fish store owned by Joe (played by Edward James Olmos). Joe takes pity on young man and offers him job of an assistant. Nick gradually learns the secrets of fish trade and Joe begins to treat him like a son. His good-looking wife Betty (played by Maria Conchita Alonso), is, on the other hand, getting aroused by the presence of young man in their house. Although both Nick and Betty try to resist their feelings out of respect for Joe, the inevitable happens. But their torrid affair is going to have serious consequence only after arrival of Danny (played by Steve Schrub), Joe and Betty's son. Obnoxious Danny, wannabe actor addicted to drugs and in constant need of cash, is jealous towards Nick and quickly learns what is going on between his mother and young Irishman.

Edward Pomerantz's script is using age-old plot of themes of love triangle and decent people succumbing to primal forces beyond their control. What sets this film from many others is normal, blue-collar setting and characters who resemble people that we can encounter in street every day. Another great thing about Caught is in the way that he treats fish trade - one of the least glamorous ways to earn money - with respect worthy of any profession; for the character of Joe, it is his pride and joy and he simply can't imagine living his life any other way. Acting in this film is very good, especially in the case of veteran Edward James Olmos who brought great deal of humanity to his portrayal of cuckolded husband. Maria Conchita Alonzo, former Miss Venezuela, brought a lot of mature sexuality – rare commodity in 1990s Hollywood films – while portraying woman torn between conflicting priorities of her age. Robert M. Young was less successful with other two major actors - Steven Schrub went into overacting mode while portraying obnoxious son, while Arie Verveen didn't leave much impression with his rather bland portrayal of Nick. Caught also suffered because of somewhat poor ending, but when it is all sad and done, the journey through familiar paths is going to be rewarding enough for today's audience.

RATING: 7/10 (+++)

(Note: The text in its original form was posted in Usenet newsgroup on September 23rd 2003)


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Critic: AA