Mary Reilly (1996)

“Mary Reilly” (1996)


Malkovich, Jekyll and Hyde

This film makes me uncomfortable. I suppose that would be its purpose. But the thing is: at time distance i usually get a good impression of it, and my memory retains good opinion regarding it. But while i watch it, and i’ve done it a few times, i don’t find reasons to match my remembrances of previous viewings. I thought about it and i think it all comes down to one element, which is Malkovich. Julia Roberts is useless, she’s an ornament, the girl who is there to get scared and perform the “walk in the dark facing her own fears and beating them” role. OK with it. Not so OK when she is supposed to provide our Hyde with a background and lend him her fears and bad memories, she fails completely and that’s a weak point. Frears direction is correct, he understands pace and how to build a film respecting the mood of the script. Everything OK.

Than we have Malkovich. He has a way of performing which many times gives the sensation that he is not performing at all, as if he was always being him. This is a false sensation and, in most cases, i think this works as a positive aspect of his performances. Somehow it provides him with a sensation of several layers, that of the character he performs, himself and the way he understands that character, almost as if he was always making personal annotations on what he feels about his characters (strangely this vanishes in his performances for Oliveira’s films, but that’s another story). Here in this film this aspect works out differently. On the one hand he doesn’t establish the radical opposition between Jekyll and Hyde that one might need to watch. On the other hand this brings out the inner connection between the two, and the observation that anyone contains Jekyll and Hyde, and the establishment of ones personality is the resolution of that inner conflict. This very conflict is the one that Malkovich carries into his performance (actor versus character comparable to Jekyll versus Hyde). This is probably what confuses me and probably the most interesting element to observe in the film.

My evaluation: 3/5, solid work, weak points but interesting element, as referred.

This comment on IMDb


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