Monday, May 10, 2010

The Innocents

I remember reading Henry James' story "The Turn of the Screw" when I was younger. I remember it being a "ghost" story that had an ambiguous ending that left it open to interpretation whether the ghost had been real or not (hence the quotation marks around the word "ghost") and the story was mysterious and cool, but it's the kind of ending that's hard to pull off on film. In film, you almost have to take one interpretation or the other and run with it (either the ghost is real or it isn't) or it's hard to have a coherent story. That's the biggest problem with this movie, I think. Don't get me wrong, the movie is very good, it's just that the movie leans more toward one interpretation than the other, and that makes the story a little befuddling and the ending a little unsatisfying. With the movie "Picnic at Hanging Rock," a movie infamous for leaving its central mystery unsolved, at least the movie left us with a definitive answer to SOME of our questions, which made it easier to take. With "The Innocents," we have a lot of questions and we're left to figure out the answers ourselves, and that can be hard to swallow. Nevertheless, this movie is masterful at unsettling us with its atmosphere, and for that reason alone it's well worth seeing.

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