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Changing Lanes

Saturday May 2 at 11.10pm

Changing Lanes

Cast: Ben Affleck, Samuel L. Jackson, Amanda Peet, Toni Collette, Sydney Pollack

Director:  Roger Michell

Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson square off in this excellent dramatic thriller about social divides and moral choices.

Affleck plays a rising lawyer named Gavin Banek who is late for an important court submission when he commits the titular manoeuvre and has a minor collision with businessman Doyle Gipson (Jackson), who is also late for an important appointment - a custody hearing with his ex-wife.

Gavin's car can still drive, but Doyle's needs a tow. Harried by his lateness, Gavin leaves a protesting Gipson stranded on the side of the road, which causes Doyle to miss his hearing and lose custody of his kids.

But when Gavin arrives at his court date, he realises the vitally important documents he needed to present have become mixed up with some belonging to Doyle, who now possesses them.

Thus begins an escalating series of severe one-upmanship between the two men which threatens Gavin's employment and marriage and Doyle's future.

Changing Lanes is an unrelenting thriller that doesn't, like most modern thrillers, rely upon tired perilous conventions for its tension - it's about two characters who find themselves forces into difficult situations where they don't do the right thing.

It focuses on difficult issues that most films ignore, and takes the viewer to some pretty dark places, character-wise. But at the same time, it very much works as a cracking thriller.

The strong performances of Affleck (never better, except for maybe Dazed and Confused) and Jackson anchor the film well, and are helped along by a superior supporting cast.

Amanda Peet, who spends most of her time in frothy comedies, is amazing as Gavin's morally resigned wife Cynthia, and Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense, Muriel's Wedding) puts in another fine performance as a colleague of Gavin's with whom he has been having an affair

But the most powerful supporting performance in the film is from Sydney Pollack, a successful director (The Interpreter, Tootsie) who sometimes takes acting roles. As Gavin's infuriated boss, he is genuinely scary when displaying his fury at his employee's error.

Changing Lanes is an intelligent, challenging and complex film - be sure 'n watch it.