There are certain actors that I will follow on faith, and through the years Joseph Gordon-Levitt has become one of those people. He has managed his career with precision, bouncing between indie and mainstream fare as well as lead and supporting roles. I always appreciate a young actor who is willing to take chances, to pick roles and movies that they're passionate about or that might challenge them. Gordon-Levitt rose to the top of his generation with an eclectic bounty of great performances in oddball films (Brick, Mysterious Skin, The Lookout) and, in my opinion, recently delivered Oscar caliber work in "(500) Days of Summer" and stole every scene he was in during "Inception." So despite the fairly negative reaction that "Uncertainty" had garnered, I was willing to enter this variation of "Sliding Doors" (yes, other films have employed a similar narrative--sorry, the Gwyneth Paltrow feature is where my mind goes) with open arms. The good news is that Gordon-Levitt and an appealing Lynn Collins embrace the movie's challenges with gusto. The bad news is that one story is completely implausible while one is, sadly, too mundane.
The conceit of "Uncertainty" is that one decision can affect your entire life. At the beginning of the film, the young couple stands in the middle of a bridge--each then runs in opposite directions to launch two disparate stories based on that choice. The GREEN story follows the pair to a family outing with Collins' extended clan. This bit is gently observed, sweet, and humorous. I liked the story, but it was not as impactful as I might have wanted. The YELLOW story, however, provides more intrigue. Finding a lost cell phone, our duo find themselves enmeshed in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the phone's owner. Based on a terrific idea, it doesn't take long for this sojourn to enter some pretty unlikely territory. In truth, I loved the idea of this movie with every fiber of my being--for about 30 minutes, I thought this was a gem. But the outlandish plotting is a game changer.
The film does an excellent job at distinguishing the separate story lines with visual cues. Aside from the obvious wardrobe choices, the colorful designations are represented well with vehicles, street signs, housing decorations, and other noticeable details. I think the film makers displayed a lot of talent in the intercutting of the two tales from both an editing and visual standpoint. Both stars acquit themselves well--however, the YELLOW couple is rife with bad decisions and it becomes increasingly difficult to care about their self-created predicament. After a great beginning and a terribly interesting idea--ultimately, I just couldn't muster much enthusiasm for the way this film played out. Interesting effort that isn't fully successful, I would still look to the creators and the stars for their next project. KGHarris, 3/11.