Okay, this time we really get to see how I'm not a professional reviewer, just a shallow viewer with certain things that will draw his attention and make him happy. And then, bending with the wind, putting it all back into question when it seems like his friends didn't like the film he thought he liked when the credits were rolling by. And then reasserting his simple lack of depth in getting back to what he liked. And not a single little nap during the film, at least not by me! Brace yourself, this should be a roller coaster!
I have a weakness for supernatural powers. Not the god kind, but probably more the magic kind. I don't particularly believe in either of them, but I enjoy the magic kind in a movie. This movie has that in spades, or at least in vines and storms. Oh, and home decorating! But we'll come back to that.
It also has one of my other favourite things: attractive young men. Well, at least one, and one who seems to have wandered in from a fifties or early sixties high school/college comedy or drama. A little "aw shucks"-y, a little innocent, but also on the verge of losing that innocence in an entirely willing way. I might become a stalker of Alden Ehrenreich, or at least of his movies.
Heading downhill now… One of my friends, who is given to insightful deconstruction of the dramatic elements of theatre and cinema, observed that all the women characters were evil. I wouldn't be able to contradict that statement, and it started making me feel less positive about the movie. Damn you, Alden Ehrenreich! I should have noticed that on my own, if you hadn't absorbed all of my attention!
I also spend a great deal of the movie trying to place Jeremy Irons. The moment his character appeared I thought there was something familiar about him, but couldn't for the life of me figure it out. Seeing his name in the credits reminded me that I had grown so familiar with him in the role of the pope in The Borgias. Dark casters both, I would have to say.
Upside coming! The inside of that dilapidated southern plantation house was fabulous. A giant curving staircase that would be the nightmare of a safety expert (no sides or handrails) in such a stark setting as to allow for its magical (in both senses) transformation from one scene to the next. I loved it with all the energy I usually reserve for opera sets and am ready to move in at a moment's notice. The binding spell around it might also come in handy in lieu of an alarm, too.
So apart from the magic, the boy and the house, what appeal? The story, I would have to admit, was a little light on content. Outsider girl irresistible to popular boy, struggling with a terrible secret and a heart-rending choice, loved ones sacrificing themselves for others' happiness. All a bit predictable. And then the worst and probably most predictable part of all for an American film: crazy twist at the end making us feel like it might have a happy ending after all.
As the coaster slows and pulls into the station, I have to say that I would have been happier with the uncertainty that seemed like it would be the end.