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Knowing is Everything. 

Year: 2009 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: Unknown 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: This film is not expected to be subtitled, though this cannot be guaranteed. 
Directed by Alex Proyas 
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson  
An image from Knowing

In the 1950s, children buried messages of how they imagined the future in a time capsule. One specific message, filled with numbers, draws the attention of teacher John Koestler (Cage). It turns out that it contains predictions about major disasters, some of which are still to happen. The questions that follow are huge: who wrote it, how did they know, and – most importantly what do we do about it? And what happens when the numbers run out?

With such a plot, Knowing has a lot of potential ground to explore: it could be a modern Cassandra story, where Koestler would prophesize but not be listened to. It could be a study on Cage’s doubt, though it probably would have required a less action-oriented actor for that purpose. But Knowing is more chilling than either of these possibilities would be: as you follow the film, you know the events are inescapable. A race against the clock starts as the numbers start to run out.

Knowing is no psychological film. Rather, it is a very intense thriller packed with impressive action scenes. The pacing does not let go, and where other films would have shown an average American standing up against all odds (War of the Worlds, The Day after Tomorrow), Knowing makes the plot revolve around Koestler: why is he and his family specifically involved? The mystery around the protagonist provides the film with an extra layer of tension, and makes you want to know more about the story, rather than simply follow the events.

As an action romp, Knowing ranks fairly high, and the acting performances are up to the genre’s standards. More interesting is the directing and photography, which even though not necessarily groundbreakingly original, tie the film together into a consistent unit.

Pierre Schramm

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Screenings of this film:

2009/2010 Autumn Term (35mm)