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New Movie Recommendation 10x10 Discussed and Explained
New Movie Recommendation 10x10 Discussed and Explained - or why you can't always tell who your protagonist is and where your bad guy will come from. IMDB
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4.4Overall Score

April 13th 10×10 comes out, and you all have to get your hands on it as soon as it does. The movie is an intense cat and mouse, psychological thriller that is totally worth your time.

I have literally considered changing the name of this site from my name over to bespoke movies, themovielist, or something else like that because I love bringing you movie recommendations more than anything else I do here. (That and getting good movies from you guys, which you can do right here. Comment on recommendations. Vote up recommendations. Pretty slick.) Anyway, today I have another super clever movie to talk about, called 10×10. As in, the room in question is 10 foot by 10 foot. But we’ll get to that in good time.

The movie features an amazing mental chess game between Lewis, played by Luke Evans, (from The Hobbit, and Beauty and the Beast) and “Cathy”, played by Kelly Reilly (from Sherlock Holmes, and Pride and Prejudice). Simply put? Lewis is stalking Cathy. And he abducts her out of a shopping center parking lot, and puts into a 10 foot by 10 foot cell. The premise is well trod, but it is 100% made new by the twists that the screenplay authors bring to this idea. Just trust me, the idea spins this concept on its head. And I believe the movie is planning to be released April 13th. So watch for it and get in on it as soon as you can.

And now, because I absolutely adore talking to my best friends (you) about movies, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, I’m going to ask you to move along… watch it… and then come back. But I also bet that there will be some of you out there that didn’t 100% understand the various nuances of the movie involved. So why don’t we just do a quick walk through of what happened, and then talk about the fun bits about this movie… because I have a couple different theories on what it is that actually happened.

Quick Overview of the Movie 10×10

Let’s get right down to it. There is a lot of artifice to this movie. All of it cool. All of it interesting. But really? This movie is 100% about a conversation (if forced) between two people. And in this conversation, one person wants to know something, the other person doesn’t want to reveal that thing. So what does anyone do when this happens? Well, you abduct that person of course. And that is the long and short of what this movie is all about.

The who: Lewis, a bereaving widower, trying to figure out how his wife died. Cathy, a newly relocated flower shop owner. What do these two people have in common? What is going on here?

Lewis has been watching Cathy. And soon, Cathy finds herself in Lewis’ trunk, and then in his 10 by 10 cell in the center of his house. And this is weird, because, despite Lewis’ small anger problem, he seems like a fairly well adjusted and normal guy. And when Lewis finally starts talking to Cathy, his question?  “I want you to tell me your name.” And her response, (which is a pretty weak rejoinder, I have to admit…)  “My name is Cathy.”

And in between the conversation, we learn from replayed TV broadcasts that Lewis won’t let go of, that this might be wrapped up in a wrongful death lawsuit brought against a hospital. All Angels hospital. That bodies had been exhumed, but the investigation failed to show a cause of death.

Interspersing the conversation are all kinds of high jinks on Cathy’s part. And actually, I was sold on this aspect of the movie because Lewis was just so bad at being an abductor in spite of his preparedness. He leaves her with her cell phone at one point. He allows her to knock him unconscious several different times. The maid arrives at the house and it’s everything he can do to keep her from finding out what is going on. He really does suck at this. But the audience probably is getting the sense that this logically follows, and this Cathy Flowershop gal? Probably isn’t who she says she is.

And when Cathy finally starts talking, she weaves a story made out of whole cloth. And Lewis knows this because he has been tracking her for months now. And when this news settles in Cathy knows exactly what is going on, even though we don’t. But eventually Lewis starts extracting the true story out of “Cathy”.

Like for example, Cathy was actually the name of her identical twin sister. And “Cathy’s” real name was Nathalie Anne Stevens. That her mother was a nurse, and her father was a team doctor for an NFL team. And that Nathalie’s sister’s best friend and her father had been sleeping together. And when their mother finally confronted her husband, he ran off. Shortly after, Nathalie’s sister committed suicide by hanging herself in the family’s barn.

And four years ago, there had been a trial that covered the inexplicable deaths of three different patients in the hospital. And it was Nathalie that was their nurse when all three died. The Charleston Three. And Ileana Mathews Lewis was the name of Lewis’ wife who had died while in her care. That his wife was chock full of GHP which was apparently a rape drug, used for knocking a victim out. And that was when we realize that Lewis is not unclear as to whether or not Nathalie killed his wife… what he wants is to know why Nathalie killed his wife.

And that is when we find out that as a nurse, Nathalie’s patients would confide in her and tell her secrets. And Nathalie, being an overly “moral” individual that had been raised in the church she felt rage at being told of the horrible things they had done. John Lampte had two wives. And Jane Spencer? She tossed herself from the second floor after calling the cops and telling them that he was beating her. So what was Lewis’ wife’s “sin”? At this point, I was certain that she had killed their daughter somehow. But soon we learn that Lewis’ daughter was actually still alive when the maid, and his daughter return from a sleepover.

But we learned from Nathalie that Ileana had been having an affair. That she was drunk at a bar when she passed out and collapsed. That there was a big, tall, handsome guy who had come to the hospital in secret. And Nathalie so cares about the sanctity of marriage, that she decided to pass judgment on the whore of Babylon. As it were. Now, can I ask a question here? How legit does this all sound to you? Hrmmm. I’ll just leave that question there for now and we’ll get to that later.

The Central Question of 10×10

Don’t worry, we’ll get to the ending of the movie soon enough, but we’ve come to the point in the movie that is literally the reason why I’m talking about this movie. It is the central, and best question running through this entire movie. And it’s a question that Cathy/Nathalie, asks Lewis after it comes out what has happened. And that is, that Cathy killed Ileana for sleeping around. So here’s the question she asks:

“So tell me, who’s in the wrong here, you? Nathalie? Or your wife?”

Did you catch what she did there? At first I didn’t. And that’s mainly because I suck at names and just can never keep names straight. But when I realized that “Cathy” was asking Lewis who was in the wrong… was it you, Nathalie, or your wife, she is basically saying this: Was your wife that was sleeping around wrong? Or Lewis, have you looked at my face lately? And the fact that I’m in a 10×10 cell in your house? Was it you that was wrong? Or could it have been this old me that might once have been wrong? Nathalie has taken over the role as Cathy, her dead sister. She has become her since the trial found her innocent. And in the way she asked the question she was admitting no personal guilt herself but doling plenty of it out to Lewis and his wife.

Wrapping Up 10×10 

After getting the news that Ileana was sleeping around, Lewis goes and finds a video of his wife. It’s an uncomfortable conversation. We get the feeling that Lewis has asked a fairly personal and confronting question… and her response? “What do you want me to say?” Did he ask her if she was sleeping around on him? And then she gets a phone call that subtly registers across her face in one of the most nuance acting performances I’ve ever seen. It could be nothing. It could be everything.

So, in a rage of Lewis drives, and has an encounter with the local police because of the partial phone call that Nathalie (or should I call her Cathy?) got out of her cell. But they let him go, and so he comes back to the house only to be stabbed in the neck with a tile she pulled up from the floor of her cell. Cathy is pissed that Lewis ruined her new anonymous life. They fight and fight and fight… and when the maid and Lewis’ daughter walk in Cathy shoots the maid dead I assume.

And when Cathy grabs the daughter, Summer, Lewis says, “Don’t hurt her, she’s done nothing wrong…” And Cathy’s response is mint. “No she hasn’t, and neither have you, and neither did I!” Hahahah. So good. We have got to talk about this at the end. But when he says, “Please don’t hurt my child…” Cathy says, “Your child? You think this is your child? You were betrayed Robert.” Which is the first time we ever hear his first name used throughout the movie. And after being shot by Lewis, she is eventually killed by the finicky garage door.

The Moral Questions Involved in 10×10

One thing that I truly adored in 10×10 was the moral ambiguity that surrounds everyone in 10×10. All of the dead Charleston Three were morally guilty of something. Lewis, well, um, this entire movie is an depth primer to his own guilt. And Nathalie? Guilty of murder three times over. But it’s all justified! And we should know better than anyone just how justified we are. The audience, you, is/are complicit in the violence and abduction of a proven innocent woman. We actively find ourselves rooting for Lewis. And yet, taking the law into our own hands is not ok. “No she hasn’t, and neither have you, and neither did I.” Well, about that. We quickly went from moral ambiguity to slippery slope to a complete free fall in that single sentence.

A Few  Theories To Explain 10×10

Theory #1 – Cathy is a Reliable Narrator

Oh, come on, you know where this is going already? You are so tedious sometimes. Ok, so implicit in this movie is the assumption that our narrator… Cathy, is reliable. You can either choose to believe her or you could choose to discount what she is telling you. Maybe she did kill the Charleston Three. Maybe they were killed because they admitted to moral failings that crossed the line for Cathy.

And if we can trust her as a narrator then we have a few things we can know. Number one, Nathalie was the murderer. Two, Ileana was having an affair. And the video we saw supported that theory. We also know that Lewis had no real knowledge of her indiscretions before she passed away.

Theory #2 – Cathy is an Unreliable Narrator

Come on, Cathy/Nathalie is the most unreliable narrator ever. (Ok, not ever, but you know what I mean.) How could we possibly ever trust a single thing coming out of her mouth? She’s obviously deranged. I mean, really, since when do people that pass out at a bar get admitted to the hospital? (That was an honest question, I’ve never passed out from drinking, so I wouldn’t know… but don’t you just sleep it off?) She tells us herself she is unhinged from a life in the church, and abandonment by her father… let alone her sister’s suicide. So why would we assume anything she is saying is true?

What if “Cathy” is just using this as another way to get attention and mess with someone that is obviously unbalanced? Could it be that she saw Lewis’ fragile state and just thought she’d give it a little push for giggles? What if Ileana was actually not having an affair? What if she died of natural causes? And that her death was a totally a fluke and she wasn’t involved at all?

Theory #3 – Moral Quandary Allegory

Another option could be that 10×10 is actually just a definition of the moral ambiguity we find ourselves in today. An allegory defining the flaws of our life assumptions today. We all like to present our perspectives from a moral high horse vantage… but what if everyone in this movie is 100% guilty for a reason? What if the authors of this movie are letting us all know that no matter what we do, none of us are morally clean? I mean, stranger things have happened.

Final Thoughts on the movie 10×10 and its Explanations

I had never heard of this movie. That it was being developed. That it was under production. Anything. Which, is even more curious seeing as though I read Variety and all manner of trade rags incessantly. Just can’t get enough about movies. But this was surprisingly good in so many ways. Was it ground breaking in anyway? Nope. Will it even be noticed by the Oscars? Oh heck no. But I enjoyed the mental cat and mouse game this movie presented. The tactical ins and outs of it. Anyway, hopefully you enjoyed it half as much as I do. I know I can (apparently) get a little caught up in my excitement about certain movies. But this one was definitely worth the watch. What did you think of it?

Edited by, CY

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9 Responses

  1. Henry

    Taylor, the end of your post seems to be missing.

    This movie did something that always distracts me from the obvious focus on the primary moral quandaries. The end result is that all I care about is justice for Alondra. Maybe someone will explain it away as a necessary evil in the story. But it’s just a horribly unnecessary death.

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Thanks Henry, my site gnarled the ending of my review for some reason. Bizarre. Thanks for the heads up.

      That is such a good point about Alondra. I was so shocked by her getting shot and going down, and how the movie just moved on without nary a comment, that I don’t think I even commented about it in the review. Just so baffling. But that was the moral argument coming from the movie, or more specifically Cathy. That no one can be sentenced for any evil because life is random and the world is horrible. And who can blame you for getting yours? Which, was a shocking stance to take in my opinion. Such an obvious slippery slope that had already occurred in that thought process.

      Thanks again for the heads up Henry.

      Reply
  2. Maisie

    Hi Taylor, I’m a little bit confused. In the movie Cathy refers to Lewis as Robert ? I feel like I’m missing something ? Secondly, I don’t understand the ending (I mean maybe we aren’t supposed to and that was how the story was supposed to end, to reflect real life situations and not knowing the outcome) because they are all in the wrong so quite clearly Lewis (Robert?) would still go to prison for abduction but Cathy would be charged with her crimes – if you choose to believe she committed any – but she is now dead ?

    Reply
  3. Dan

    I don’t think Cathy was dead at the end because they showed her get hit by the garage door and showed her once again moaning softly after that. She could not be charged twice for the same crime so the only person going down is Lewis. They might possibly charge Cathy for shooting the house keeper, but the circumstances surrounding that would complicate the matter.

    Reply
  4. Taylor Holmes

    Dan (& Maisie),
    Great point Dan… and who dies via garage door? I mean, sure, I guess it could happen. but it just doesn’t ring true as a thing a screenplay writer is going to do. So yeah, I give you the not dead bit. Not sure why I bit on that… except that they made such a big deal about cooking the grenade of the garage door being broken.

    Now about double jeopardy… she could still be tried in a civil case. But you are right, she’d be clear on the murder front. But she’d probably go to jail on the civil front because of the amazing evidence that we got on the house’s taping systems. Although, any lawyer worth his salt would have the evidence thrown out on count of it be violently obtained. Right? Lewis (Or Maisie, Mr. Robert Lewis – his full name) on the other hand is in all kinds of trouble. Kidnapping, torture, maybe even manslaughter for the maid? Just lots and lots of trouble.

    Yeah, it is going to get complicated for our dear friend Robert.
    Taylor

    Reply
  5. Shameer

    I think cathy was lying about Lewis’s wife She had killed his wife for the ring that’s where she got 55000 dollars for herself that’s why even lewis says that alot for a flower shop owner

    Reply
    • Taylor Holmes

      Let me understand what you are saying… you think she did kill his wife for the ring, right? That she got the money from the ring, and that is how she was able to get her business going, no?

      Oh I totally agree if that is what you are saying. I assume she was all kinds of evil. But maybe others disagree.

      Reply
  6. Shamus

    It would have been great if the twin that committed suicide was wanted for some murders. But since the twin that is alive switched identities, it now leaves the murderous twin free to roam. Later we learn that the twin commits suicide not because the dad runs off but because her sister had murdered someone.

    So basically the bad twin is still alive but everyone thinks she is the good twin.

    The good twin committed suicide but is tought to be the bad twin.

    Reply
  7. Vineca Gray

    Love your review and the many comments. This was a real mind-bender. Suzi Ewing does a great job directing and writing. I note that she has not directed for several years. If this film is her return, I look forward to even more psychological complexity in the future. Only one small criticism — the fight scenes were amazing, but I was not convinced that these characters would have had this highly choreographed combat capability — the martial art perfection was more akin to a retired Navy Seal. To be honest, in the early stage of identifying the background of Lewis and Cathy, I expected there to be a military connection for this very reason. Oh well. Still a great film.

    Reply

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