Orange County

Kevin Costner, Kathy Bates, Linda Hunt.
Directed by Tom Shadyac.
Running Time: 104 mins
Rated: PG

In Dragonfly Kevin Costner plays a high-flying medical specialist. His medico-wife is killed in a bus accident where she has been caring for people in the remote and mountainous regions of Venezuela. He is grief-stricken and becomes obsessed with the idea that his late wife is trying to contact him through the near-death experiences of her last oncology patients in the hospital at which they both worked.

All of them see dragonflies as they hover between this world and the next and have special knowledge about his wife which he becomes convinced they have obtained from her 'on the other side'. Everyone except his lawyer neighbour (Bates) and a nun (Hunt) think he is going insane. He returns to the scene of his wife's accident and searches for the tribe in the rainforests of Venezuela where his wife was seen for the last time. This treacherous journey is filled with many special gifts and more than a little insight.

For a few decades now near-death experiences have become an interesting topic for documentary films and TV chat shows. While they affirm the Christian belief in an afterlife and reassure us that the passage of death to life is nothing to fear, they are filled with contradictions and inconsistencies. The most obvious one is that these near-death experiences are almost always reported in the death-denying first world. They seem to emerge out of a society that has lost its ability to deal with death and has moved away from traditional faith in the life to come.

Dragonfly is a supernatural thriller that deals with these first-world concerns. It's a little like The Sixth Sense meets Ghost except that it lacks the style of the first film and the humour of the latter one.

And while Costner, Bates and Hunt are good, Tom Shadyac drowns Dragonfly in an overly-sentimental way which also sweeps away any good ideas it may have had in the first place.

Richard Leonard SJ

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