April 19, 2008

The Orphanage

The Orphanage is not an easy film to review- it depends to a large degree on elements of surprise so I'm going to strive not to give away anything in this review which will make it less satisfying. The Orphanage is really really good- its scary and plays with your mind in an interesting way, you never quite know where the story is going- there was one moment in the cinema I was in, where several voices, male and female, shouted out in amazement, surprise and horror. I can't tell you when that was but there are a couple of moments, where everyone I was with screamed or ground their fists. It is really interesting as a film as well- exploring all kinds of things, notions of family life, of the way that kids and parents interract and men and women get along or don't. Essays will be written about what the film means- who knows I might write one myself, but they might give away the ending and I don't want to do that here.

What's the story anyway? Basically our heroine, Laura, pictured above, turns up at an old house with her husband Carlos and her son Simon. Carlos and Laura want to convert the house into a refuge for kids with special needs- seems like down syndrome and the like. The house previously was an orphanage where Laura stayed as a kid before she was taken away and she recalls being very happy there, playing games with the five or six other children she was with at the time (they seem to have been the only occupants) and enjoying life. As you'll expect there is more to this orphanage than that, and more secrets to its past that Laura has repressed and that others are concealing: it all comes back ultimately to questions about disability in this case and how society deals with it- but again I run before my horse to market.

The performances are very good- Belen Rueda as Laura does brilliantly- she conveys excellently the way that a woman can lose control but also her determination in pursuit of her son's good. Fernando Cayo has a thankless task playing the husband but acquits himself very well- he is both reasonable and sensible and irritating. Roger Princep playing Simon, the son, is really cute and he fits into the template of the movie- he isn't required to do anything particularly complicated but he manages to be childlike, cute and angry at the right times. The rest of the cast also does well- there are some wonderfully haunting moments and some terrifying moments which the actors concerned portray well. The centre of the film though is Belen Rueda's performance, without it the film wouldn't work- but she does brilliantly and the film does indeed work.

I have tried not to tell you anything about this movie- beyond the details you'd know from the credits. But it is definitely worth seeing and that's why I have done what I have done. Its a fantastic film, interesting on so many different levels and one that you'll be terrified by at the time but think about for days afterwards. Go out and see the film...


Paulie said...

I think that you should edit this post and put "just go see it - it's great!!!!" at the top. Then put loads of carriage returns and say 'if you really must read the review, then scroll down, but you'll really enjoy seeing this film if you have no idea what to expect.

Gracchi said...

I might well do that Paulie!