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Stars: Clive Owen. Catherine Keener, Liana Liberato, Chris Henry Coffey, Viola Davis, Noah Emmerich, Jason Clarke

Director: David Schwimmer

The perils of chatroom friendships are again illustrated in this thoughtful if occasionally overwrought drama. One does wonder whether such a pretty and vivacious 14-year-old as Annie (Liberato) would be quite so ingenuous as to continue her Internet friendship with 'Charlie' (Coffey), after he confesses to being 20 rather than 15, then to being 25.

Still less so when they eventually meet and he's obviously pushing 40.

But she gets in his car, thence to a motel room, where the inevitable happens. The twist is that the sex here, although reluctantly undergone by Annie, is partially consensual, as the girl is completely under the influence of her chatroom Casanova and refuses to believe the worst of him.

As Annie's mother (Keener) anguishes, her father (Owen) completely loses it, stealing files from the FBI investigators, alienating his daughter, stalking known predators and savagely beating an innocent man.

Meanwhile, only when confronted with evidence of 'Charlie's other victims, does Annie's world fall in. 'God, he raped me,' she cries. 'How could I have been so stupid?' And you're half inclined to agree. It would certainly have been more chilling, and helped the movie, if not its box-office prospects, if the victim had been a plain 13-year-old.

So, despite impassioned performances from the three principals, this is all a bit too much (especially when Annie is branded a 'whore' by school taunters) and it does go on a bit. The final reconciliation between father and daughter is, however, the most moving thing in the picture.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Technicolor.
106 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 2.

Review date: 03 Jul 2011