out of 4
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|*Also starring: ||George Cole, Kathy Staff, Michael Gambon, Glenn Close, Michael Sheen, Bronagh Gallagher, Linda Bassett, Henry Goodman||
Review by Dragan Antulov
½ star out of 4
In 1894 Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his famous novel about Dr.
Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, not knowing that he has given the name to one
of the most popular motives in literature and movies, especially those
belonging to horror genres. This story was adapted many times and
sometimes from unusual perspectives. One of those unusual
adaptations was MARY REILLY, novel by Valerie Martin. The novel
described the events of the Stevenson's original from the perspective
of Dr. Jekyll's maid. MARY REILLY was in 1996 adapted into movie,
directed by Stephen Frears and written by Christopher Hampton.
The plot is set in Victorian era Britain. Mary Reilly (played by Julia
Roberts) is young Irish immigrant who gets the job of maid in the
household of Dr. Jekyll (played by John Malkovich), respectable
physician and scientist. There she takes all sorts of menial jobs but
she can't fail to notice some strange things about her new boss. The
most peculiar thing is his strange assistant, rude and almost animal-
like Mr. Hyde (played by John Malkovich). It soon becomes apparent
that both men lust for her and Mary Reilly also must face the fact that
she lusts for them too.
MARY REILLY repeated the winning formula of DANGEROUS
LIASIONS - script by Christopher Hampton, direction of Stephen
Frears and John Malkovich in lead male role. The results were
different this time, mostly because Hampton and Frears made the
same mistake that had plagued many Hollywood movies - they
underestimated viewer's intelligence. Basically, Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde look identical, yet the household staff and almost any other
character in the film simply can't fathom the obvious. Another
problem is in the fact that the audience, unlike characters, knows
what is going on, so there is hardly any suspense in the film. By the
time expected ending comes, few viewers are going to care; the
movie is overlong, unpleasant to look, and too much darkness make
many images confusing. Unattractive streets of Victorian Britain are
matched with often revolting images of carcasses or poor Julia
Roberts having to deal with live eels. Julia Robert's greatest
achievement in this film is her command of Irish accent, while her
partner, otherwise reliable John Malkovich, can't rescue this film.
Instead of feminist take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, MARY REILLY
works best as the cautionary tale of filmmakers whose ambitions
didn't match their creativity.
Copyright © 2003 Dragan Antulov
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