A bunch of familiar faces (Kate Beckinsale, Dakota Fanning, Guy Pearce, Forest Whitaker) at a diner all go through a massive ordeal when a gunman walks in and opens fire out of nowhere. The disturbed individual shoots without warning, killing a bunch of the patrons and staff before offing himself. The survivors all deal with it differently, but the one common thing is that they’re all a mess after their shocking experience. Kate Beckinsale’s character has no one to talk about her feelings with so she walks around in shock, unwittingly neglecting her baby. Dakota Fanning deals with her father’s death by becoming a Jesus freak and crying to the world the praises of her brave dad. Forest Whitaker survives the shooting and, thinking he’s that he’s the luckiest man in the world, heads straight off to a casino. Guy Pearce stopped by for a coffee just minutes before the murders occurred and now is wracked with guilt.

While the original title of the film was Winged Creatures (it’s based on the book of the same name), Fragments refers to a few things, from the shattered lives of the people involved to the way their minds refuse to see the whole picture of the event. You don’t fully know what happened in the diner until near the end of the film as you’re only shown the survivor’s repressed memories when they start remembering them.

If watching people walk around in a haze unwittingly trying to kill themselves to ease their pain sounds like fun to you, then you’ll love Fragments! The film starts off strong enough but soon you’ll realize that they didn’t know where to take it. “Talk out your problems, or you’ll go nuts and hurt yourself and your loved ones,” is pretty much the only message the film has to offer.

Well… of course! Who doesn’t know this? Fragments feels like it was written by a social worker, since the lone hero of the story is the guy sent by the hospital to get people talking. He’s the only character who is there for a few characters, and it’s only through his actions that people get healed and begin to move on. He’s the savior on the film, the deus ex machina, since obviously people can’t handle situations without his aid.

Yes, it’s scary to be a victim of violence, and some people never recover. Yes, it’s terrifying to think that most people on this Earth die alone and afraid, and you’re likely to go just the same way. But these are things that we all know and have pondered over since birth, that have been explored countless times before in every form of media, and the vastly over-simplified emotions displayed in this film offer nothing original.

In the press notes the director states that he was interested in making
a film that “confronted the hypocrisy of the US gun lobby without being
overtly political”, which is beyond strange considering what the film
is. The fact that the violence was committed by a man wielding a gun
doesn’t change anything in the film- he could have been stabbing
everyone, or just smashed into the diner with a car. The gun isn’t the
focus, the impact of sudden violence and death in people’s lives

There’s some interesting stuff here and some powerful performances from
terrific actors, of that there’s no doubt. As a concept it still has potential, but the movie meanders just like its stars and you’re left wondering just what you sat through.

6 out of 10

Fragments opens today at the Village Quad in NYC and will open in LA on August 7th. It’s also coming to DVD on August 4th.