Commandments - * *

Commandments is a rather confused dark comedy with a religous theme. Seth Warner (Aidan Quinn) had a good life. He was married to a beautiful woman, and had a great career as a doctor. Then he was punished by God: his wife was killed, his house destroyed by a freak tornado, his dog was crippled, and he was even struck by lightning. Now, Seth has decided that he will break each of the ten commandments until he understands why. Meanwhile, his wife’s sister, Rachel (Courtney Cox), and her husband, Harry (Anthony LaPaglia), are looking after Seth, and giving him a place to live. Harry, although the narrator for the film, is quite a lout, breaking several commandments himself. It is no wonder that Seth and Rachel are strangely attracted (hey, that’s a couple of commandments down as well). The film teeters between being a dark farce and a light romantic comedy, and never quite figures out where it should stand. Commandments needed a stronger guiding hand from director Daniel Taplitz, whom most of the time seems to just stay out of the way. Aidan Quinn is flat as the main character, but you can sympathize with his ordeal, if not his methods. Anthony LaPaglia is apporpriately irritating as the villain of the piece, but irritability isn’t quite the quality you desire in a narrator. Courtney Cox is around simply as the temptation for Seth, and doesn’t have much else to do. The screenplay is a bit sloppy at times, and needed some punching up. There’s an interesting idea here, but Commandments never gets its act together to present it.

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