Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Red Riding Hood (Review)
With my taste for myth and nightmare, mingled with sexuality, little wonder I eagerly awaited the film Red Riding Hood. Several members of the cast inspired hope, from Amanda Seyfried to Gary Oldman and Julie Christie. Now I've seen the finished film, what is my reaction?
The good in this film is very good. Apart from the gorgeous imagery, and a genuinely compelling musical score, some performances reach the level of wonderful. More, the plot--essentially a supernatural mystery--is quite fun. On the other hand, the writer of this dialogue should be forced to copy by hand the works of Caryl Churchill, Stephen King, John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ray Bradbury--anyone who knows how to write dialogue. Maybe it would rub off. We can hope!
Another problem. Given my love of history, I'm not very forgiving of wild historical inaccuracy. Like the fact all these medieval peasants used hair conditioner. The multi-cultural knights come to hunt the werewolf (and any witches that might be around) would be okay--were they explained. When the local priest (Lucas Haas, in an underused role frankly) says he's sent for Father Soloman (a famed witch hunter) and that he'd be there tomorrow, all I could think was "How do you know that? What, did he send you a text?" Mind you, all that would be a lot more forgivable were the whole thing more stylized. As the film appears now, it seems either too off-kilter for naturalism, yet too naturalistic to be a mythical world of werewolves and walking archetypes from the unconscious.
By far the biggest problem, though, remains a not-uncommon one. Simply, the two male leads who vie for the the heart of our female heroine, are boring. Unforgivable. An old acting coach of mine once said "When you become an actor, you sign a pact saying you're not allowed to be ordinary or dull any more." Several members of the cast demonstrate this truth with great skill. But instead of genuinely interesting, compelling characters in those roles we see a pair of male models--who suspiciously resemble Edward Cullen and Damon Salvatore. Minus the charisma. That one is supposed to be a blacksmith and the other a wood cutter yet both have slender frames makes for one more detail that yanks me out of the film and back into my seat in the theater.
Too bad. Most (albeit not all) of the potential of this film bled away. You can still enjoy it, especially in the right mood, but there are way too many drops of mediocre amidst the fine wine and juicy meat. Make that a drinking horn or two, rather than drops.