The presence of Amanda Donohoe in any picture, however tiny the budget, immediately makes the movie seem several times more expensive than it actually is. Her latest MTI video release, "The Atlantis Conspiracy," began life in the year 2000 with a promising unknown writer/director (Dean Silvers) an unpromising title (ROCK THE BOAT) and a less than stellar cast list of co-stars. At that point in her career, Donohoe, then 38, understood the sad truth about Hollywood stardom. In spite of her soaring talent, enormous drive, stunning looks, 16 films and a Golden Globe award, Donohoe had already returned to London where she was far more likely to receive steady work in meaty roles on the British stage, screen and television.
At times, "The Atlantis Conspiracy" looks like the lovelorn indie it may well have been, but Amanda Donohoe, like Bette Davis or Barbara Stanwyck, dominates every moment she's onscreen and makes you care about her disillusioned character. Lauren Marcus is retuning to the company she founded with two young friends, Barry and Jon (played by Danton Stone and Bill Sage). Atlantis had once been a thriving company with impressive government contracts, but then there was a death or two, scandal, an investigation (federal agent Paul Calderon still drifts around the margins of the plot) and Lauren's breakdown. Wistfully, she pores over early black and white photographs of joyful Jon, Lauren and Barry, mourning her shattered spirit and lost idealism. Lauren's only friend is a goofy bookie named Flesh (played by Jeremy Davies). Much against her will, she is dragged back into Atlantis by Jon's suicide. Or was it suicide? Refusing to believe it, she tries to enlist Barry and his new business associate (Adrienne Shelly as Samantha) to clear Jon's name. Although Barry appears glad to see Lauren again, he balks at the idea of investigating the company.
Shady board meetings, a ghoulish trip to the graveyard and several spins around a mental ward follow before "The Atlantis Conspiracy" unravels, but whatever happens, Donohoe is the one to watch through an increasingly nutty series of scrapes. Unfortunately for Adrienne Shelly fans, she is given little to do. Danton Stone, who used to play Clare Danes' immature uncle on "My So-Called Life" in 1993, looks and sounds exactly the same and is as enigmatic as a latter day Grady Sutton or John Eldredge. Never mind, Donohoe is enough of a conundrum for any mystery, but how I would love to see her as a Victorian murderess or film noir femme fatale in brand-new versions of Robert Hichens' "Bella Donna" or Roland Pertwee's "Pink String & Sealing Wax" or John Cresswell's "The Woman In Question!" In the meanwhile, "The Atlantis Conspiracy" is available on DVD from MTI.
© 2003 - Monica Sullivan - Air Date: 4/23/03
The Atlantis Conspiracy
USA - 2000