Review: The X-Files: I want to believe

2008-08-03 00:00

CineCentre, Ster Kinekor

It’s been such a long time since The X-Files were around that there’s even been a feature film along the way before this one. The TV series was brooding, bordering on ambivalence, but tending towards belief. It was suggestive, although essentially in a misleading way, opening events up to multiple interpretations, which suited the conspiracies and paranoia that drove the plots.

I Want to Believe is a stand-alone film that doesn’t need the history to make sense, but which relies on the patina of memory to imbue it with a mystique that isn’t really there.

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are back in the saddle at the instigation of an FBI agent (Amanda Peet) searching for an abducted colleague. Mulder is still a believer, Scully is in denial. The Other Side is represented by a paedophile priest played by Billy Connolly, which is such an ironic casting choice that it surely sinks any effort to suspend disbelief. He sees visions of missing women, and the dilemma for Scully, if not for Mulder, is whether to give them any credence in their hunt for the missing FBI agent.

The compelling aspect of The X-Files has always been its brew of paranormal, supernatural and metaphysical questions that both frame and punctuate ordinary crime stories. I Want to Believe chucks out the interesting imponderables and settles for a muddle of metaphysical musings that go no further than whether God would work his wonders through a priest who’d buggered some altar boys. No aliens, no nasty syndicates or sinister G-men. Scully’s lost her sex appeal, Mulder’s got sad and sorry and their chemistry has evaporated. Only an act of faith can redeem these Nix-Files.

**

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