View Date: February 15th, 2002


Kevin Costner Joe Darrow
Joe Morton Hugh Campbell
Ron Rifkin Charlie Dickinson
Linda Hunt Sister Madeline
Susanna Thompson Emily Darrow
Kathy Bates Miriam Belmont
Robert Bailey Jr. Jeffrey Reardon
Jacob Smith Ben
Jay Thomas Hal
Lisa Banes Flora
Matt Craven Eric

Directed by:
Tom Shadyac 

Written by
 Brandon Camp & Mike Thompson 
David Seltzer
, Brandon Camp & Mike Thompson 

Related Viewings:

Sixth Sense,The
Ghost Story

Official Site:

Also see my reviews at:


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Don’t look now, but Kevin Costner is hearing voices again.  This time, instead of mysterious ramblings from a cornfield, Costner is haunted by a duality of natural phenomena, insects, and waterfalls.  In Dragonfly, a haunting love story that works when it is unconvential, but stumbles when it goes over the top for emotion, Costner is a stubborn, doubtful doctor who has just lost his wife in natural disaster while she was on an aid mission in South America.  The movie hearkens back to Ghost and The Sixth Sense, and while it lacks the edge and genuine emotion of those two films, it does succeed in making us think twice about those things that we would normally dismiss, and believe in the power of true emotion to help us see what we may doubt or scoff out.

Costner is Dr Joe Darrow and along with his physician wife Emily, was apparently living a comfortable life. But all is turned asunder when a flood washes away their future plans and leaves the doctor a distraught workaholic.  But something is amiss.  He begins experiencing things which most would chalk up to coincidence or chance, but with his heart longing and yearning for her memory, he begins to expand his realm of the possible.  You see, he hears her voice, he feels her presence, and through some circumstances some sappy and maudlin, others just downright predictable, he begins to wonder if she’s really all the way gone.  Courtesy of the convenient presence of nun, some young cancer patients, and a tolerant law professor neighbor, Costner begins to explore the boundaries of the impossible, while clinging to the love and emotion that he lost.  The film repeatedly, if not inadvertently, poses the question, does our mind, fueled by emotion, expand what it believes and what it doubts.  Does Costner’s love for his wife allow him to consider that she is still out there trying to contact him? Does his passion to find these answers allow him to explore circumstances which he normally pass off as inane?  The film stumbles through the groundwork of establishing the potential connection, but somehow touches an emotional nerve during his journey, both physical and mental.  The resolution of the film, while not a twist, is still kind of a pleasant surprise, and is acceptable in the grand scheme. Director Tom Shadyac falls back on some of his tools that almost made Patch Adams too much, in the establishment of the bond between the doctor and his wife, and the circumstances, some believable, some questionable, in order to support, and ultimately justify, his conclusion.  He does manage to balance it enough to make it tolerable, without being excessive. Oddly enough, I thought back to one of the better movies of last year, Memento, during the viewing of Dragonfly.  Both involve a grieving husband, and the search for answers by whatever means necessary.  In Dragonfly however, the supernatural edge adds something to it, while the cliched filled script detracts, and at times distracts from the matters at hand.  Had Shadyac laid off just a bit, and taken a few more chances with things, he may have had a memorable film.

Most of the time, Costner is better when he’s at the extremes of character traits.  When he’s serious (JFK, Thirteen Days, Dances With Wolves, Field of Dreams) his determination and stubborn nature comes across to near perfection.  When he’s cute and humorous, (even add in athletic, Tin Cup, Bull Durham), he plays off his rugged good looks and charm and coasts through the roles.  But in past roles like this one, as grieving, doubting, stubborn, cute and romantic, he has usually failed (For Love of The Game, Revenge, Waterworld, The Postman)  This time around though, he has balanced all of those and bottled them when necessary, and lets them out at just the right times (although occasionally, during movies failed dialogue scenes, he comes off as a bit too over the top).  This movie is his to make or break, and he doesn’t do anything outstandingly good or bad, but comes in at just the right pace to make this film work.

Ultimately, Dragonfly could be the poster movie for someone who just will not let go.  It treads on similar ground that Ghost laid down a few years ago, and that other movies have touched on upon recently, that of the communication with lost loves through other than worldly forces.  The movie succeeds at being entertaining, but stumbles when it falls back on clichéd situations and dialogue.  The overall experience is one that is mildly successful, but with a toned down touch, could have a been a strong supernatural love story that presents the query of strength of emotional bond, fueling strength of belief in that which most would normally dismiss or cast off.  Just as in life, if you open your mind and heart, and allow your blinders to come off, in favor of the potential that exists in the world, then you may be pleasantly surprised at the results.  Even if it isn't exactly what you expect, it can still be a refreshing surprise amidst the madness ($$$ out of $$$$$)

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