Thursday, November 1, 2018

She tries to rescue her son from a war zone

Susan Sarandon stars in Viper Club, a story about the distraught mother of an independent journalist who has been captured and held for ransom in war-torn Syria. Sarandon plays Helen Sterling, an emergency room nurse who has been fighting to rescue her son Andy (Julian Morris) from kidnappers who have demanded a $20 million ransom, a sum Helen has no way of raising. At work, Helen tries to mentor a new doctor (Amir Malaklou) in the ways of the ER. Adepero Oduye adds credibility as Helen's supervisor. In her free time, Helen gets the bureaucratic runaround from both the State Department and the FBI. Hope seems to be fading when Helen learns about Viper Club, a network that draws attention to the plight of kidnapped journalists and also raises money to pay ransoms. Enter Charlotte (Edie Falco), a rich woman who rescued her son in a similar situation. Charlotte urges Helen to go public. Sarandon and Falco are superb, with Falco getting an opportunity to play an upper-class woman whose life is foreign to Helen's middle-class existence. These scenes and Sarandon's performance throughout elevate the English-language debut of Iranian-American director Maryam Keshavarz(Circumstance). Viper Club doesn't build enough high-voltage tension around political questions connected to a journalist's disappearance, but Sarandon gives the movie plenty of ground-level humanity.

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