Tuesday, 22 January 2013

No.65 : The Village

The Village on IMDb

 Even you haven’t seen ‘The Village’ you will doubtless know the twist ending, but in case you’ve been living in a cave for the last ten years I’ll begin with *Spoilers* follow.

We open with a village community surrounding the cemetery - they are standing well back as Brendan Gleeson is weeping and cuddling a small coffin. We learn later it was his daughter and her tombstone indicates the year to be in the 1880s. Things go along OK for a while but strange behaviour is noted such as the burying of some red flowers lest their ‘forbidden colour‘ be seen. Village simpleton Adrien Brody larks about and has a fancy for the blind Bryce Dallas Howard, while young men test their bravery by standing close to the woods.

Romances also blossom with the quiet Joaquin Phoenix being pursued by Judy Greer and widowers William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver having a mild flirtation. Through all this character development we learn that the village is in a valley surrounded by woods, which are occupied by ‘those we do not speak of’. An age old truce keeps these presumed monsters out of the town, and the villagers out of the woods.

There are however signs that the truce may be ending, as small incursions into the woods see animal corpses strung up in the village and red marks on their doors. Tensions heighten until the shambling, red cloaked creatures start vacationing in the village making us all a bit scared and wondering who does their tailoring.

Things reach a head when Adrien stabs Joaquin for stealing his girl and leaves him critically injured. As he hangs on to life it’s up to his new and blind fiancé to brave the woods and hopefully secure the medicine that may save his life.

I saw this film in 2004 and remembered it as being better than this repeat viewing. I can’t remember if I was aware of the big reveal prior to seeing it originally but now watching with the full facts it seems daft and heavily signalled from the off. Sigourney’s big secret box foreshadows the drawn out reveal and the danger towards the end was totally impotent given William Hurt was showing off the suits like a Burton’s salesman.

The cast, impressive as it is, deliver pretty poor performances. Adrien Brody goes ‘full retard (thanks ‘Tropic Thunder’) and never convinces as the simple yet latently psychopathic Noah. Joaquin is flagged early as being ‘quiet’ which is a blessing to all as it limits his dialogue. He does however deliver a master class in understatement when he’s stabbed.

I’d like to have seen more of the dependable Weaver and Gleeson but instead we get loads of the earnest and portentous William Hurt.

The direction, tension building and reveals are all clumsily handled and the pacing is poor. We trudge through an hour of slow boil tension build only for it to be undone with little or no pay off.

Overall this is an OK kind of distraction but on reflection it’s really just a one trick pony, and a lame one at that.

THE Tag Line - Village People not worth a song and dance.  57%

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