Sunday, 29 November 2009

The 24th Day (2004) directed by Tony Piccirillo

The 24th Day

Review By: Dan Deevy

When new writers join us here at TheCinemaSource, there is one cardinal rule of reviewing movies which I always impart; there is no such thing as a movie which is completely perfect or a movie which is completely irredeemable. I feel that it is our job as “critics” to present you, the reader, with both the good and the bad in a given film. After seeing Tony Piccirillos’, The 24th Day, I may have no choice but to break that rule.

This was hands down the most impressive movie I’ve seen in years. I left the theater feeling completely reinvigorated with a renewed sense of optimism for the entertainment field. I’m certainly not saying that this is a feel good movie by any means, because it most certainly isn’t. But it does something that most movies, multi-million dollar blockbusters in particular have lost the ability to do… it made me think. Only a few minutes into the film, I found myself feeling so connected to the characters and their situations that while I was watching and admittedly judging their behavior, I had no choice but to sit back and reflect on my own as well.

More so than any other movie I’ve seen, The 24th Day really puts the ambiguity of “truth” under a very intense and at times uncomfortable microscope. This movie doesn’t only present the viewer with questions of who is being truthful, but also what is the nature of truth itself? It’s always one man’s truth versus another, versus what Scott Speedmans’ character, Tom, describes as the “true” truth.

This movie poses the question, what would you do if one day your entire life as you knew it came to a crashing end? If everything you had been hiding, your darkest secrets had suddenly come to light because of a mistake you made 5 years ago? How rational could you be?

In The 24th Day, James Marsden (X-Men, Gossip, and Disturbing Behavior) plays Dan, a successful, charming Hollywood-type who could probably get away with accidentally killing your dog one minute and then sleeping with you the next. His personality is so magnetic and he is physically so gorgeous, that after spouting about ten lines of bull shit you will have forgotten you even had a dog to begin with!

Tom, on the other hand, brilliantly portrayed by Scott Speedman (Felicity, Underworld) is the quiet, introspective type whose lack of self confidence has led him to a “safe” existence as a chef in a local restaurant and married to his high school sweetheart. Tom gave up his dream of becoming an archeologist because he believed that, “certain people aren’t meant to be certain things.”

The only thing that these two characters initially have in common is one fateful night of shared passion 5 years prior; A night that Dan can barely recall, but that Tom is unable forget.
Convinced that Dan was not safe the night of their encounter and responsible for infecting him with HIV, Tom lures Dan back to his apartment where he ties him down and extracts a sample of his blood. His terms are relatively simple; if the sample comes back negative then Dan will be free to go, however if he’s HIV positive then Tom is going to kill him.

Going to the extreme of kidnapping someone as the only means of extracting a truthful response from them, may at first seem to boarder on the ridiculous; but as the situation unfolds it appears to be less and less ludicrous and more and more like the only option available.

Without an exorbitant budget or loads of special effects to fall back on, The 24th Day relies on the extraordinary performances of the actors and the brilliance of the writing to carry the audience through this story. (Now you tell me, how often does this happen in Hollywood?)

I won’t go into details about the interaction that these characters share and the strange compelling bond that develops between them during their forced time together, but sufficed to say that your eyes will be glued to the screen and your mind will be racing a mile a minute as you consider everything that you are witnessing.

There is absolutely no time wasted on screen. Every conversation, every moment, all have multiple overlapping meanings that film professors and students alike will relish in analyzing for years to come.

Now, if there has to be a downside to the film, the only thing that I could find is that you may not be feeling so great about yourself when you leave. Audience members, sexually active twenty-somethings in particular, will be forced to reexamine their behavior when it comes to random sex acts or alcohol induced encounters. (Not fun I know, but perhaps very necessary.)

Without being at all judgmental or preachy this movie really forces you to look inside and see what could potentially be the best or worst parts of yourself. Jimmy’s character, Dan, is eventually forced to admit that his choice of either being tested or not being tested has absolutely nothing to do with the other people he could potentially be putting at risk; his arrogant resolve is that it could NEVER happen to him so why bother? A clear reflection of either his fear to know the truth and just remain confident that he could never be sick or that even if he is sick he doesn’t care to whom he passes it.

When we sit back and reflect on our own sex lives and think, “wait there was that one time when the condom might have broken or maybe that one time when I was so drunk that I may have forgotten,” or probably the worst thought of all, “that time I chose not to protect myself, or my partner.” These are times and thoughts which we all sweep under ...the rug and never admit to that this movie forces us to recognize.
Even after all of the emotional and physical turmoil that Dan endures, he’s still so set in what should be the “truth” that he almost believes it himself.

By the way, when you head to the theaters to see this movie, don’t expect to find the answers to any of these questions. The director made the bold commendable choice to leave much of the conclusion of the film up to the individual audience members to wrestle with.

The final thought that I’m going to leave you with is a quote from the film that really stood out. Tom tells Dan, “I put my life in your hands, someone I didn’t even know and I’m getting what I deserve.” A bit harsh? Yeah. But it does make you ask yourself, are random sex partners worthy of bearing that responsibility? It can after all, as we have seen, be a life or death decision.

Movie Grade: A+

*Just a side note, the movie is not Nearly as preachy as my review turned out. These have been some of the questions and conclusions that it brought about in me; You have to see it for yourself and discover what it evokes in you.*


It’s the 24th day after Tom (Scott Speedman) has found out that he is HIV-positive. A married man who has lived his life as “straight,” he has had sex with a man only once in his life. Consumed with sorrow and rage about his situation, Tom sets in motion an outrageous plan.

Finding Dan (James Marsden), the man he slept with five years earlier, Tom lures him to his apartment, ties him up and forcibly takes a blood sample. If Dan’s test comes back negative, he will let him go; but if it is negative, he will kill him.

The stage is set for an intense battle between the two men, with Dan using every method at his disposal to try to escape. Both of them are in top physical condition, while Dan seems to have the intellectual edge. Will that be enough for Dan to trick his way out of his bonds?

Still, as the two men face-off and gradually reveal themselves, the question becomes: who is the true victim or victimizer? Tom’s violent kidnapping and murderous threats clearly pass the bounds of legal and rational behavior. And yet, if Tom’s conviction about Dan is true, then Dan is accountable for more than a minor moral lapse. But is Dan in fact responsible for giving Tom HIV? He adamantly proclaims he isn’t.

Writer/Director Tony Piccirillo keeps introducing enough twists and turns in the story to keep it surprising and involving, while setting off a host of explosive questions…. What moral responsibilities do we have to one another in the age of AIDS? ...Are we only answerable for ourselves? Is there such a thing as absolute “Truth”?

Source By: Dan Deevy

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