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Exposed by Carlos José Alvarez (Review)

posted Feb 22, 2016, 4:55 PM by Kaya Savas   [ updated Feb 23, 2016, 3:41 PM ]

The making of the film Exposed might be more interesting than the failed film itself. The film was the debut of writer/director Gee Malik Linton who titled the film Daughter Of God. It was supposed to be a 60% Spanish-language film about a Dominican woman experiencing strange occurrences after witnessing a miracle. The secondary plot involved a detective searching for answers in his partner’s death. Keanu Reeves is in this supporting role, which was supposed to be a minor role. In the end, Lionsgate re-cut the film and eliminated 20 or so minutes of the main plot to center the film around Keanu Reeves and make it a generic cop thriller since that was more marketable. The end result was a film that was trashed by critics and it ended up being straight to video. Director Gee Malik Linton disowned the film and had his name removed from it. So when you see “Directed By Declan Dale”, that’s just a pseudonym. No idea where the name Declan Dale came from, but that’s the sum of it.

Now, all that studio interference shouldn’t deter you from experiencing Carlos José Alvarez’s very subtle and emotional score to the film. The score is nothing generic, it’s a very intimate and small exploration into subtle emotions that plays very well. I don’t know for a fact whether Carlos José Alvarez worked with Gee Malik Linton or not before he disowned the film, but the final result of the score stands strong on its own.

The score’s approach is almost etherial in nature, hovering between a dreamlike trance and stark isolation. The vocals by Janet Dacal add an organic humanity to the music to make the score feel like it’s pouring out of the character’s soul. While this subtle and delicate approach to the score works to carry a tragic tone, it’s that tone that seems to linger too long that makes the score feel like it’s standing still. The music pulls you in emotionally with its melancholic atmosphere, but it seems to stay in that state for the entirety of the first two acts. It’s not till the track “Albiness” that we finally get some really great tension going. It’s a minor narrative thing that can be blamed on the film’s structure. Carlos José Alvarez manages to weave the characters deep into the music though and that's what lifts the score to make it truly resonating.

Overall, the score is successful in painting the story, and most importantly the characters. I still don’t know if the film was scored before or after the studio made their cuts and the director departed, but whatever happened we at least have a great example of Carlos José Alvarez’s talents as a storyteller.