Nicolas Cage and Gina Gershon re-team for the first time in 20 years to star in Lifetime movie that wasn’t made for Lifetime.
“I’m really here to support those two actresses. That’s my job to be a supporting force to the two female leads.”
Occasionally I discuss a movie here on The Tao of Nicolas Cage where Cage isn’t the lead. I did it previously with Rumble Fish and I’m going to do it again today with Cage’s latest flick, Inconceivable. Sometimes you can learn just as much, if not more, about Cage as an actor from his supporting role choices as you can from his lead roles. Inconceivable certainly says a lot about Cage and what he’s hoping to accomplish on screen at this stage in his career.
Angela (Gina Gershon) and Brian (Cage) are a happily married middle-aged couple with a 4-year-old daughter named Cora. Having child was extremely difficult for them. Both are very successful doctors and as a result, they waited until a bit later in life to have a baby compared to most couples which led to a number of complications including four miscarriages. Finally, they tried a donor egg and that proved successful. However, even when successful birth issues arise.
The pregnancy almost cost Angela her life and because of this, she didn’t go back to work once Cora was born. She decided to take an indefinite leave of absence allowing herself to heal and giving her time to raise their child. Now that it’s been four years Angela is feeling better, Cora is old enough that she can be left with a nanny and Angela can finally get back to work. This is when they meet Katie (Nicky Whelan).
Katie is a single mother that escaped from an abusive relationship. She’s bounced around a bit with her daughter Maddie but has started to settle in the Cincinnati area. When Katie meets Angela the two hit it off immediately. They both have daughters that are the same age and generally speaking they seem to have a lot in common. When it turns out that Katie may have to move again for a better job offer the timing works out perfectly for Angela and Brian to offer her the job of their live-in nanny.
Initially, things start off really well and they’re all living together as one big, happy family. Angela and Brian even decide to have another kid but instead of going the donor route again they decide to have a surrogate. They ask Katie if she would be willing to do this for them and she readily accepts, but things are quite as they seem. Katie has a sinister side and she doesn’t like the idea of a working mother.
Inconceivable is billed as a psychological thriller. Director Jonathan Baker refers to it that, but that’s not how I see it. There are some psychological elements at play, particularly with Katie and her mental state, but this is really more of a melodrama. This is straight out of Lifetime. The only thing preventing this from being on Lifetime is some nudity and a number of F-bombs, most of which come courtesy of Gershon. Well, that and it’s played a bit too earnestly.
Chloe King, whose writing credits include Poison Ivy II, Red Shoe Diaries 3 and Red Shoe Diaries 17 (!!!!), wrote the script for Inconceivable and that’s where a lot of the film’s problems start. The basic premise of a mother with abandonment issues wanting to make sure children are properly raised but ends up taking it too far is interesting. The problems lies with the finer points.
Why would two seemingly smart people with a small child allow a complete stranger to moving in with them so quickly? Even more alarming, why would two doctors who have gone through serious pregnancy issues pick such an awful time to have a second child? Angela’s one successful pregnancy was so problematic that it took her four years to recover. Now that she’s able to return to work she immediately tries have another child? By the way, they try the donor option again but have a fifth miscarriage before switching to the surrogate. At best that’s not great.
I also think Baker should have pushed for more overly dramatic performances. Take the Gone Girl road and just got nuts with everything. This film has Nicolas Cage and Faye Dunaway — she plays Cage’s mom — so why not unleash those two? Gershon and Whelan have moments towards the end where they really start to get into it and Cage has one scene where he lets loose and it’s great. I wanted more of that. Give me that and I can forgive the flaws in the details.
What does fascinate me about Inconceivable is that Cage hasn’t really done a DTV movie like this. His DTV movies to date have been action flicks do this was an interesting choice. Fortunately, the Blu-ray release of the film contains a Cage interview and he gets into all of this.
“Having done Southern Fury (Arsenal) and playing a really kind of wild character and playing another kind of unhinged character in a movie I made called Army of One,” Cage says in the interview. “I thought this was a great opportunity to remind people that I can also play a normal guy. I thought this became the new challenge to just be a normal man in a movie. I thought that was the more exotic choice for me at this point.”
Cage is essentially defending his range as an actor here, which is something I try and do weekly. Despite not having the best material to work with Cage does show that he still has the acting chops to mix it up.
The other aspect of this film that fascinates me is that Cage isn’t the lead. Throughout his career Cage no been a supporting character a number of times. However, to the best of my knowledge, this is the first time he’s ever been a supporting character in a DTV movie. Fortunately, he spoke on that as well.
“I immediately thought the script was a marvelous opportunity for two actresses, two great female leads and that I would be supporting them,” Cage said behind-the-scenes while discussing why he liked the script. “I thought that was just a good thing to do all the way around because there aren’t a lot of great parts for ladies in Hollywood.”
“I’m really here to support those two actresses,” Cage discussed in the interview, stressing that he didn’t want to overstep his bounds. “That’s my job to be a supporting force for the two female leads.”
So there were two things I was curious about when I sat down to watch this movie and Cage came through and answered them both in the bonus features. They’re great answers too and support what I’ve been trying to convey about Cage for years. You may not always like what he does but Cage isn’t how here just accepting any ole role. There is a method to his madness. There’s a logic behind everything he chooses to do. Things don’t always work out, and I would say Inconceivable is one where things as a whole didn’t work out, but the passion and thought process is always there and I’ll be damned if I ever stop appreciating that.
You don’t say?
“I worked with Gina in a movie called Face/Off,” Cage modestly quipped as if Face/Off is a little film that has gone unnoticed for years.