Case 39 (15)

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The Independent Culture

Renée Zellweger plays an overburdened childcare worker who seems to have solved an open-and-shut case of child abuse, but her decision to take temporary guardianship of the endangered girl (Jodelle Ferland) is one she lives to regret.

Her surrogate child turns out to be sly, manipulative and possibly the very embodiment of evil: Case 666 would be closer to the mark. Bradley Cooper and Ian McShane play respectively colleague and cop who unwittingly involve themselves in the sorry business. It doesn't help that Zellweger has become so hard to like, horribly smug and pious when things are going right, abjectly hysterical when she sees the error of her ways. The preposterous turns of the plot are scarcely to be forgiven, let alone believed, though the moment the cop discovers a child bundled into an oven by her parents and cries "What in hell's the matter with you people?!" at least raised a laugh.