Friday, September 22, 2006

Tideland

There was a poem here, and thanks for the comments on it. But I've replaced it with with a movie review:

Name of Movie: Tideland
Director: Terry Gilliam
Year: 2006
Cast: Jodelle Ferland, Jeff Bridges, and others
Country: USA

Tideland, is the strange tale, adapted from Mitch Cullin’s novel of the same name, about a ten-year-old girl, Jeliza-Rose. Both her parents are heroin addicts and when her mother dies from an overdose, her father, Noah, takes her to an old family house in the middle of nowhere which has fallen into ruin over the years. The only neighbours are a taxidermist, Dell, and her brain-damaged brother, Dickens. When Noah also dies, Jeliza-Rose is left with only her four “friends”, decapitated doll-heads she attaches to her fingers and converses with – the only friends she’s ever had.

Jeliza-Rose’s strange upbringing makes her a highly unusual character. She shows no emotion over the death of either parent and indeed, doesn’t appear to understand what death is. When she encounters the weird Dell and Dickens, they are no odder than anything she’s previously encountered in her life. Her father’s corpse decays, smothered in flies, in the house’s rocking chair. Dell embalms it and walks about the fields in a sinister bee-keeping attire, and is prone to terrifying mood-swings. Dickens’s view on the world is that of a child in a man’s body, but his hormones are adult, and his obvious attraction to Jeliza-Rose is, to say the least, disturbing.

Jodelle Ferland was superb in the lead role as Jeliza-Rose. In some ways, due to the difficulties she’d experienced in her life, she was old beyond her years, but in most others completely innocent. It’s this sense of vulnerability that’s always going to make an audience care, and she was a wonderfully engaging and imaginative character.

As for the other characters, they were well performed, but behind all their grotesque oddness, there was something superficial about them. Sometimes weirdness can be used as a substitute for real depth. It’s like a disguise. You feel there’s something interesting about the character, you become fascinated by their strangeness, but there’s nothing to them except that surface strangeness. Jeliza-Rose’s father, Noah, was unconvincing as a heroin addict. He seemed far too attentive to his daughter, not selfish enough.

That said, the movie is fascinating, the photography is terrific, the imagery memorable, the ending provocatively double-edged. Terry Gilliam presents a portrait of a girl which is moving, engaging, and tragic – without being in any sense morbid. He has a surreal imagination that's reminiscent of Fellini. It’s a cut above most films you’ll see this year.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good start!

I advise you to seriously reconsider the third stanza; I found it unnecessary.

CE

Paula said...

I tend to agree with CE. The third takes me out of the poem. I like the rest quite a lot.

Rob Mackenzie said...

CE, Paula - thanks. You are right about the third stanza. I'll take it out and rework the connection from second to fourth.