It’s Only Divine Right directed by Spike Jonze
Tagline: Sometimes doing nothing is the greatest crime of all.
Johnny Depp – Salvador Bramalea. A con artist who lack of action, and mental instability, leads to major consequences.
Brad Pitt – Daniel Bramalea. Salvador’s brother who is the “muscle” in the con. Daniel’s love for money supersedes almost everything else in life.
Rosemary Dewitt – June Geogra. A human rights activist that frequent butts heads with mayoral candidate Newbury. June also strikes up relationship with Salvador.
Denzel Washington – Stanford Newbury. A mayoral candidate that goes to great lengths in a attempt to win the election.
Julianne Moore – Annie Sithy. A psychiatrist who tries to help Salvador with is reoccurring visions. Annie is also a drug addict. Annie and Daniel are romantically involved on the side.
Don Cheadle – Detective Roland Queensway. He is in charge of tracking down the Woodland Killer
Salma Hayek – Sofia Newbury. She is a trophy wife who spends most of her days drunk. Until the chance to become an instant celebrity arises.
Charlotte Rampling – Margo Bramale. Mother of Salvador and Daniel; it is Margo who organizes and plans all of the family’s cons.
Zooey Deschanel – Detective Ashley Shin. Queensway’s new partner who just made the ranks of detective a few months ago.
The film opens with a close up on a young man whose face is looking directly looking into the camera. He is attractive, in his twenties, and is talking to someone who we do not see. Judging from the conversation they have just had a late night rendezvous and are making plans to met again. Without warning a clear plastic bag is placed over the man’s head and he struggles to grasp for air. As the man fights to stay alive we see a gloved hand appear from behind him and covers his mouth. The eerie sounds of his last moments are still heard as the screen goes black.
The next morning we see Salvador Bramalea (Depp), his brother Daniel (Pitt) and their mother Margo (Rampling) eating breakfast at a diner. The Bramalea family are con artists who are set to make the biggest score of their careers. The con consists of convincing a local mayoral candidate, Stanford Newbury (Washington), that they have special ties with the infamous Ianccio crime syndicate. Stanford believes that the Bramelea family can use their mob ties to help facilitate a victory in the upcoming election. Little does Stanford know, but it is Salvador and Daniel who are sabotaging his competition. Salvador arranges for a few key opponents to get into compromising situations (e.g. photos with women who are not their the candidates wives, drug use, etc.), while Daniel is the muscle of the operation using physical force to sway members of city council to vote for Newbury. Although Salvador and Daniel are the best at what they do, there has always been a level of jealousy between them due to Margo favoring Daniel over Salvador.
One day Salvador has a disturbing vision. A series of images flash before his eyes but they do not make any sense. There is Salvador is in a priest’s robe, Daniel has a beard and is in a wheelchair, there is a man crying, a glamorous looking woman on CNN, and an angelic looking woman staring at him. Salvador tells Daniel about his vision but his brother quickly dismisses it as a result of lack of sleep due to all the late nights on the Newbury job. Later that evening Salvador is watching television and a breaking news alert discusses the recent murder of Alan Jamis, the man from the opening of the film. The reporter points out that the murder echoes those of the Woodland Killer from a few years back. The Woodland Killer had notoriously violated and murdered several young but was never caught. The reporter claims that Jamis was known for his homemade custom jewelry which often featured characters from Japanese anime. The news report featured reactions from three prominent figures: Detective Roland Queensway (Cheadle) who is involved with the investigation; mayoral candidate Newbury; and June Geogra (Dewitt) who is a human rights activist. Detective Queensway tells the reporter that the police have several leads and will be doing everything they can to catch the murderer. Salvador instantly recognizes Queensway as the man who was crying in his vision. Newbury gives a statement regarding how he will be taking a tougher stance on crime than the current mayor. Salvador notices that Newbury’s wife, who is standing beside him on television, is the same woman Salvador saw on CNN in his vision. The last interview is of June Geogra who criticizes the politicians for ignoring the crime in poorer areas of the city. Salvador is stunned to see that June is the angelic person in his vision.
Soon Salvador’s visions start to become more prominent in his day to day life. It even affects his and Daniel’s work as Salvador starts to lose grip on reality. He frequently see June’s angelic image following him wherever he goes. Frustrated, and slightly concerned that his brother is going mad, Daniel arranges for Salvador to meet with a local shrink, Annie Sithy (Moore). Daniel, through his shady connections, often supplies Annie with illegal drugs. Some of these narcotics Annie gives to her patients and others she keeps for her own personal use. Daniel and Annie have also been intimate on more than one occasion. During one of their psychiatric sessions, Salvador confides in Annie that he has had visions similar to this when he was younger. Annie informs Salvador that he needs to seek out the focal point of the vision, the angelic June.
Salvador eventually seeks out June at a protest she has organized outside to the police station. Queensway comes out side and he and June get into a heated debate. Queensway threatens to arrest June and her protestors if they do not disband immediately. Before Queensway can give the order to his officers, Salvador swoops in and defuses the situation with his charm. As Salvador and June leave, Queensway orders his partner, Ashley Shin (Deschanel), to conduct a background check on Salvador as something does not sit right with him. June and Salvador start to spend more time together as June believes that Salvador is a fellow activists. As the two get closer romantically, Salvador is conflicted about telling June about both his true profession and his visions. Amidst this there is another news report about the body of a young boy surfacing. Newbury’s wife, Sofia (Hayek) is at home drinking herself into a stuper mocking her husband for not have the stones to catch this guy. Newbury chastises her for been drunk at ten in the morning.
A few days later Margo, Salvador and Daniel have a meeting with Newbury regarding the final three weeks before the election. Margo assures Newbury that things are on course and that the few problem areas will be dealt with shortly. While in Newbury’s office, Salvador sees a unique looking bracelet on the floor. He goes to pick it up but Newbury quickly steps on it without even breaking his stride. Newbury informs the Bramalea family that they need to speed up the timelines in order to get results. He adds that they need not bother with the little things that do not concern them otherwise the consequences will be steep. This last point seems to be geared towards Salvador who is slowly getting up from the floor.
Outside the office Salvador informs his family of what he saw. Salvador does not like the latest vibe he got from Newbury and contemplates terminating this particular contract. Daniel is adamantly opposed to this idea as they have invested too much time and effort into the project. Margo, as usual, agrees with Daniel as the money is too good to pass up and the job is almost over. Margo orders Salvador to stay home for the remainder of the job as his mental instability could ruin everything. Despite his better judgment Salvador opts to stay quiet and ignore what he saw earlier that day. All is quiet for a few days until there is a thunderous knock on the door of the Bramalea home. Detectives Queensway and Shin have come to question Salvador about the brutal murder of June Geogra.
The papers are baffled about June’s death, several articles question whether or not the Woodland Killer has finally found a taste for women after molesting and killing so many young men over the years. The news of June’s death sends Salvador over the edge and he is unable to tell what is real and what is not. He spends two days in bed hallucinating and getting deeper and deeper into his vision. On the day of June’s funeral several journalist are there to get a few sound bites from Queensway and Newbury. Margo, Salvador, and Daniel attend the funeral as well. After speaking to the press, Newbury comes over to give his condolences to Salvador. As the two men sake hands, Newbury slips one of June’s earrings into Salvador’s palm. Newbury then tells Salvador and his family had better stay the course or more of their loved ones will meet the same fate. Shocked, Salvador can only listen as Newbury explains that is the one conning Salvador’s family and not the other way around. Newbury states that he and the Ianccio family have been close for years, and he knew the Bramalea’s where lying to him since day one. The only reason he did not say anything was mainly because it was cheaper to use them.
Salvador is barely hanging on mentally but is determined to avenge June’s death but he needs more evidence. He follows Newbury to one of the campaign offices one night. There are faint sounds of a young man screaming for help. As Salvador turns down the corridor the sounds get louder. Soon Salvador reaches the door where the screams are coming from. Peering through the window he sees Newbury on top of a young Asian man who is struggling to fight him off. The Asian man is the same man that was crying in Salvador’s vision. Salvador reaches for the door knob but feels the cold end of a gun on the back of his neck. He turns around to find Daniel staring back at him. Daniel admits that he has been the one abducting young men for Newbury. Daniel has not only been getting a large paycheck for his services, but Newbury has promised him property in the Caymen Islands. Salvador knows he is losing touch and must get the young man in the room away from Newbury. Figuring he was a dead man either way, Salvador turns and opens the door. Before Daniel can pull the trigger he is shot in the lower side from behind. Detective Shin, who has been following Salvador for the last few days, appears in the hall and checks to see it Daniel is still alive. Daniel is still alive but has suffered severe nerve damage. Salvador pulls Newbury of the man and starts to punch him relentlessly. Detective Shin stops Salvador before he kills Newbury.
Fast forward two years. Newbury’s trial is over and he is serving a life sentence behind bars. The trial reveals that there were many more victims than anyone could have anticipated. Sofia writes a best-selling tell all book about what is was like to be married to a serial killer. She uses her new found fame to peddle her book on the television talk show circuit. Daniel, who is now paralyzed, serves 15 years in jails for his crime. Though Salvador has visited him a few times, Margo is driven mad with grief. As for Salvador, the guilt from of June’s death still ways on his mind. Having covered his tracks in regards to the con, Salvador spends the rest of his days in a seminary trying to atone for his sins. Thought the visions are not as frequent, he is still haunted by the luminous vision of June every now and then.