Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
While watching this film I Imagined I was seeing an alternate universe view of a hybrid Charles Addams/Edward Gorey/Roald Dahl world as seen through the eyes of a child.
By itself that is enough to keep my attention. Add wonderful performances, glorious art direction, and beautiful photography, and you should have a sure-fire winner.
But — and it’s a big “but” — the film does not generate emotional involvement. I didn’t really connect with the situations of the Baudelaire children, even though we are meant to identify with the astonishingly awful things that continually befall them.
Why not? Maybe it’s because they handle things so well. Maybe it’s because we never really get to know their parents. Whatever the reason, the situations these children find themselves in remain curiously distant.
Given the fantastical and odd characters and the weirdly retro world that surround them, this should not be surprising. This is not a real world they inhabit. Maybe we can be excused for not feeling that touched. Keeping one’s emotional distance from adversity, after all, is a time honored method for coping. So we can watch a film like this — which after all involves children in peril — and not get too bent out of shape. But for me at least that takes some of the fun and interest about seeing a film like this. I can respect the technical artistry of it all but unless the story and people are involving, it’s gone when the curtain falls.
Copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald