10 Cloverfield Lane

10 Cloverfield Lane ★★★★

For 85% of its briskly paced 103-minute running time, 10 Cloverfield Lane is a marvel of tight-but-minimalist screenwriting, dead-on editing, and compellingly intimate acting. When Goodman gets Oscar attention next year for his richly pleasing performance, it will surprise no one: he's a beloved actor of a certain age revelling in a meaty role that is both funny and terrifying, and he nails it. However, Winstead is even better in her less-showy and more difficult role, as the steady thrum of tension that makes 10 Cloverfield Lane so riveting is largely derived from the story told throughout by her eyes. Like a hyper-intelligent but emotionally wrought Kit-Cat clock, Winstead fills in pages of subtext with her many wary looks askance, stolen glances, eye-rolls of forlorn disbelief, and her silently determined adjustments to new information. It's a tour-de-force of eye work. As the third-piece in this intimate set, Gallagher provides an affable foil to the contest of wills between Winstead and Goodman, but lest his performance be underrated, it's worth comparing his simple and likable Emmett to Gallagher's other eye-catching role of 2016, in the similarly confined Netflix horror thriller Hush — he's a compelling actor with many levels, and Emmett is another finely calibrated cog in this almost exquisite suspense machine.


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