By Bill Goodykoontz
Gannett Chief Film Critic
By Bill Goodykoontz
"Deception" is kind of like the Oscars — and this is surely the only time the film and the awards will ever be mentioned in the same breath.
Both plod around lamely at the beginning, milking inane dialogue, before trying to squeeze far too much into the last little bit. It's not a perfect comparison. Most people actually care who wins the biggest Oscars, for instance, which are always saved for last. And they don't telegraph the winners from the get-go.
Since "Deception" layers plot twist upon plot twist in an effort to make up for a lack of believable story, it's difficult to say much about what happens without giving too much away. The funny thing is, the part that doesn't give anything away actually sounds kind of interesting.
Ewan McGregor plays Jonathan McQuarry, a wimpy accountant who parachutes in on big companies to go over their books. It's a lonely life for a lonely guy; McQuarry seems well suited for the task.
Enter Wyatt Bose (Hugh Jackman), a cooler-than-thou lawyer who takes McQuarry under his well-tailored wing. How cool? He offers McQuarry a joint after hours in the conference room of a law firm. Righteous.
Soon they're playing tennis, going out to clubs and generally having a big ol' guys in New York time of it.
Bose is called out of town on business, and through a series of mix-ups McQuarry is introduced into the high-dollar sex club Bose is a member of. There are rules: no names, no shop talk, the person who does the inviting pays for the room. It's a decidedly different side of life for the wet-blanket McQuarry, one that he enjoys.
See? What's not to like so far?
Plenty. While you might expect the goings-on of a sex club to be sordid, who would have guessed they'd be boring, too? McGregor does an OK job of capturing McQuarry's naivete at such things, but how many partners does it take to prove the point? And since McQuarry is seemingly beyond any sort of excitement, why should we bother?
And then a woman (Michelle Williams) whom he briefly talked to in the subway shows up for sex. He's smitten, he is excited ... and things go south from there.
As is the way of these exercises, nothing is what it seems. Often this would be too much information. Not with "Deception." Director Marcel Langenegger, in his first feature, litters the film with hints and clues throughout. Maybe that's by design. Or maybe he just doesn't trust the audience to keep up.
For what it's worth, I am terrible at figuring out mysteries, and I saw all the twists coming. Then again, they were so obvious, the people in the theater next door watching another movie probably picked up on them, too.
Jackman is somewhat interesting as Bose. Williams doesn't have much to do, and doesn't seem to be having a particularly good time doing it. And McGregor's McQuarry needs something to wake him up, though the methods used here are probably not recommended.
Nor, unfortunately, is seeing "Deception."