Saturday, 30 July 2011

Double Bill Mini Musings: The League and The Lovely...

The League of Gentlemen's Apocalypse:
I'm years behind-the-times with this modern British comedy classic of a series, but this month it's all been about Dyson, Gattis, Pemberton, and Shearsmith's darkly delicious vision of the warped Northern town of Royston Vasey. The film is a satisfying outing, bringing fresh territory to the series, and a sense of scale that exceeds the consistently impressive TV show. When the town of Royston Vasey begins to crumble - the titular apocalypse - it's up to Hilary Briss (the butcher), Geoff Tipps (the clumsy dolt who can't tell jokes - and who practically steals the entire film), and Herr Lipp (the innuendo-driven German tour guide) to save their town, by entering the real world to get their creators to keep writing about them. Bloody good fun.

The Lovely Bones:
Peter Jackson's adaptation of the book that concerns the aftermath of a teenage girl's murder, from both sides of the divide between life and 'the place in-between', is a visually inventive, dramatically tense, and chilling affair that will linger hauntingly in your mind afterwards. The emotional drive of the film - the torture of losing a child to murder - is keenly and tensely depicted throughout. Then throughout the flick, the visions of 'the place in-between' provide moments of wondrous melancholy, but also threat from unresolved trauma.

However, despite the impressive presentation and emotionally deep and grounded direction, there's a curious sense of lacking at the final hurdle come the film's end. Many characters feel cast aside throughout, and the closing moments of the film comes in a way that lacks a sense of closure for many of them, rather than in a way that would have more satisfactorily tied together the various plot strands. Indeed, the inevitable comeuppance is somewhat lacking in itself - you don't get the totally relieving sense of vindication that you feel you deserve as a viewer, and the execution of it doesn't pack the punch you'd expect given its foreshadowing earlier in the film. Perhaps these problems aren't so present in the original book (where they will have, naturally, spawned in the first place) - problems that have become more evident through the adaptation process.

Despite these stumbles though, The Lovely Bones is a beautifully realised vision with confident, considered direction, strong performances, a perfect sense of tension building, and a chilling balance of grim and glorious subject matter that allows the film to walk the line between drama for general audiences, and the horrific implications of the actions of truly dark individuals. Flawed, but satisfyingly haunting.

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