Thursday, February 9, 2012

New Movie Review: The Woman in Black

As you might have guessed, I was very excited about seeing this movie. Did it live up to the hype in my head?

Not quite. But that was mostly my own fault. The movie was actually great looking, very atmospheric and pretty darned spooky. Unfortunately, I had just read the book. And therein, as they say, lies the problem. The writers took quite a few liberties with the plot, and I couldn't help making the obvious comparison.

Daniel Radcliffe (of Harry Potter fame) was a nice casting choice for Arthur Kipps, the young lawyer on a tragically unfortunate mission. He had one particularly strong scene in the police department where some young boys drag their deathly ill sister in for help. There was a true poignancy to the moment when Arthur tries to assist her. It was at this point that I thought that maybe the film would go in the direction of spooky and heart wrenching. There was certainly a great potential for that route given the fate of the town's children. Unfortunately, it did not go that direction, though it might have (and probably would have) provided a greater emotional impact if it had.

The book version of Arthur Kipps was a self-asssured guy with the mild cockiness associated with youth and a budding law career. He knew nothing of fear or tragedy. This experience was to be his lesson...and his undoing. The movie's Arthur was quite the opposite---withdrawn, melancholy, lost in the sadness of his wife's untimely death. I don't think this was necessarily a bad change, but it was ultimately tied up with a less than impressive new conclusion to the story.

Without giving away the whole ball of wax, there are a couple of scenes near the end that are quite cheesy and not very well done. They are part and parcel with this film's attempt at a semi-happy ending, but it really doesn't work very well. And the director's choices in depicting the scenes were hokey-pokey minus the pokey.

Still, I think I would have quite enjoyed the movie had I not just read the book, and had I not been distracted out of the necessary mood by a less than quiet audience.

I guess you'll have to see it for yourself. Enjoy the trip to the English countryside and the eerie marshes. That part was lovely, in a creepy way. And, of course, read the book!

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