Person of Interest is a sincere effort to combine a straightforward crime drama with a meditation on the struggles of lesbians in law enforcement. Alas, sincerity is not enough to overcome the numerous and deadly flaws obvious throughout the film.
In an unnamed small community in the northeast United States, a number of young women have gone missing, as well as one school aged girl. With no leads to speak of, in desperation, Sheriff Nickie Wells (Elise Rovinsky) turns to James Hart (Cuyle Carvin), a purported psychic, for help. James agrees to aid the sheriff, with ambiguous results. Sometimes he can dazzle with his abilities, and sometimes he seems to grasp at nothing. Nickie's on again, off again girlfriend Sandra (Julie Bell), a local police detective, is aggressively suspicious of James, and goes to significant lengths to investigate him and his past, even though Nickie is a firm believer in him, and even perhaps a friend.
What follows is a mix of character development (mostly concerning Nickie and Sandra's tentatively blossoming relationship, and Sandra's reluctance to come out to her co-workers) and dogged investigation into the disappearances, along with not a few scenes of inexplicable randomness. Things move along fairly predictably to the emotionally unsatisfying climax.
There are a number of problems with Person of Interest. The first we'll dwell on is the performances, which are not so much bad as muted. No one seems to have any passion or strong emotion about anything, even such seemingly fraught events as discovering a number of corpses in a flooded quarry, being threatened by a drug addict with a gun or indirectly causing the suicide of an old man, any of which would grossly disturb the equanimity of most normal humans. The performances are across the board too reserved, and this detracts considerably from their believability. The addition of the at times awkward and stilted dialogue does nothing to improve matters.
The next problem is the story itself, which is at once both slow moving and scattered. Scenes that impart minimal character definition and move the plot along not at all are lingered over, while other scenes seem jammed in merely to set up a future event, but are themselves incongruous. The film cannot decide whether it wants to be a serial killer story, or a relationship drama, and both aspects suffer from lack of serious attention and the incoherent bouncing back and forth between them. Then there are the plot points that simply defy credulity, such as when a nurse stops by James' house to show him how to sue a CPAP machine, and, instanter, tries to ham fistedly seduce him. There's also the moment when Nickie and James go to the home of a retired army colonel to ask if he knows of any veterans who might be responsible for killing the missing women, even though absolutely nothing has been presented previously to suggest that a veteran might be the killer, and no reason is given as to the motivation for the visit. In addition, there are some fairly serious continuity and related errors. The most glaring of which is that the sheriff's uniform shoulder patch clearly says "United States Department of Defense", which implies that the producers simply picked up the first official looking uniform they could find and deemed it good enough.
The visual aspects of the film are handled well and the camera work is smooth and even mildly inventive at times. However, this area of quality does not even begin to make up for the serious short falls in other areas. Person of Interest is marked most by a seeming lack of care, of time taken to ensure that it was as good a product as could be under its obvious budget constraints. The numerous flaws, despite the few and fleeting moments of quality, doom this film to failure.
The image is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen, and apart from a few points where the shadows overwhelm the scene, it looks fairly good. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no judgment can be made on the quality of the final product.
The sound is Dolby 2 channel, and does the job adequately, but is nothing special. At a few points some dialogue sounded a bit muffled, but this was the only obvious problem. No subtitles or alternate language tracks are available. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no judgment can be made on the quality of the final product.
There are no extras included on the disc. However, this review is based on a check disc, so no judgment can be made on the quality or quantity of extras on the final product.
As mentioned before, Person of Interest is a sincere effort. Everyone involved seems to honestly want to produce a good film. However, the scattered nature of the plot, unnatural lack of strong emotion in the characters, and sheer implausibility of much of what goes on betray that honest effort and deliver instead a tepid final product with little good to show. This is one to skip.