dolan's cadillac | jeff beesley | richard dooling | christian slater | emmanuelle vaugier | wes bentley | crime | thriller | Canada | united kingdom | based on | short story | stephen king | greg bryk | aidan devine | al sapienza | karen leblanc | cory generoux
Film: Dolan’s Cadillac
Director: Jeff Beesley
Writer: Richard Dooling
Starring: Christian Slater, Emmanuelle Vaugier and Wes Bentley
This was a film that I was intrigued to check out as I am a big Stephen King fan. This was an interesting short story and when I saw that they made a film adaptation, I put it on my Netflix list. It took some time to getting around to seeing it, but finally did. The synopsis is a young man attempts to seek to avenge his wife’s death after she is murdered by a Las Vegas mobster.
We start this off seeing our main character, Robinson (Wes Bentley), wearing torn up gloves and screaming. It also gives us a bit of voice-over narration from him about how much he hates Dolan (Christian Slater) and how evil he is.
It then shifts us to his life. Robinson is married to Elizabeth (Emmanuelle Vaugier). They are both teachers at the same school. The two of them are also trying to have a baby and it has been unsuccessfully thus far. She tells him that he will have to worry about his dinner that night as she is going to go horseback riding after school.
This is intercut with Dolan who is a human trafficker. He has a couple of Hispanic men with a panel truck bringing a bunch of women. One of them is upset and starts banging on the fan system. This causes it short circuit. When they arrive at their destination, many of them have died due to the heat and the air not circulating. Dolan arrives and takes care of the drivers. One of the women tries to flee, but he takes care of her as well. Elizabeth sees this and Dolan along with Chief (Greg Bryk) and Delta (Karen LeBlanc) see her. Elizabeth also drops her phone.
She goes to the local police who can’t do anything for her. It is when they go home to find the dead girl who tried to flee, made into a message. They go to the FBI with what happened. They meet with Fletcher (Al Spaienza) and it is decided that Elizabeth and Robinson will go into witness protection until she can testify. It doesn’t happen as fast as they thought and it comes to a tragic end for Elizabeth when she is excited and tries to use their car.
Robinson goes into a downward spiral of depression. He is haunted by visions of his wife. He follows Dolan, learning his routine. He buys a gun and decides he will take care of his evil man himself. When he has a run in with him and is humiliated, Robinson comes up with a different plan. One that involves joining the road crew fixing the highway that Dolan takes from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a regular basis.
To get into his review, I do have to say, from what I remember about the short story, this adaptation does a solid job of hitting all of the plot points and just adding in some filler that helps to deepen the story. So for those reading this that have read the story, it does end pretty much the way the story does, but I think it is pretty satisfying in that regards.
The next thing to touch on is that I wasn’t necessarily sure if this was horror or not. For most of the film I thought that it wasn’t. It really is a crime thriller. What really changed my mind though is what Robinson goes through in his descent to madness. He is out to avenge his wife as the synopsis says. The film though actually has her as a specter that he sees in his grief. She is actually burned up and he is seeing her that way. He is also visited by the girl in a dream that was left in their bed. This is an interesting horror element that is used quite a bit, but I do enjoy seeing people as they deal with grief.
Something else that is a horror element is Dolan and what happens to him. He is a typical mobster who deals in human trafficking. That makes him despicable. Robinson talks about him being pure evil, which I don’t necessarily think is the case. I do have to say that the fate that befalls him though. Robinson does torture him in a sense, which is good to see him get that kind of revenge. Personally, I’m glad he did, but I like that the film blurs the line of who is a monster and who isn’t with what happens.
This next brings me to the pacing of the film. I didn’t have any issues here aside from I do think that the film has issues building tension. Part of this is that the build up isn’t necessarily exciting. It is sad to see what happens to Elizabeth and seeing Robinson descend into madness. It established how horrible Dolan is, but part of the film is the couple hiding out and then Robinson deciding as well as setting up what to do. I do like the ending though. I do also have to bring up, there is some really good writing with things that are shown early in the film that allude to what is going to happen at the climax. I caught these knowing the story, but it really is a good touch for multiple viewings if you don’t initially.
Next would be the acting, which is pretty solid. Slater has a perfect kind of arrogance to play the role of Dolan. He comes off as bastard, but he does have an odd charm about him as well. Vaugier was pretty good looking and I liked her was well. She really doesn’t have a lot. Her best contribution is during the haunting scenes telling her husband what he has to do. Bentley is an actor I’m a fan of. He disappeared for a bit with some personal issues from acting, but he has such a dark look to him and I think he fit perfect for this role. The rest of the cast rounded out the film for what was needed as well.
As to the effects of the film, it really didn’t need a whole lot. I don’t recall any CGI, which is good. I know there was one practical effect of a broken bone. That didn’t look all that real, especially where the bone is located. I would say that since the film went light on the effects, it doesn’t hurt it as it really didn’t need them. The film though is shot well and it does some good effects to help simulate Robinson and his mental state.
Now with that said, this is a solid adaptation of a lesser know King short story. Even though I wouldn’t necessarily say this is a horror film, it definitely has some elements and I decided to write this up for that. I like the idea of a man, stricken by grief, descending into madness for vengeance. I feel bad for him and can’t blame him for what he does. I think the pacing has issues as this is a story that is necessarily exciting. The acting though was solid. It is light on the effects, but I don’t really have much issue there. The soundtrack didn’t really stand out, but it also didn’t hurt the film either. Overall I’d say this is slightly above average. If you like crime thrillers, I think this is one to check out.
My Rating: 7 out of 10