Monday, July 27, 2009

Movie: Hide and Seek [2005]

Bought this film yesterday and very much enjoyed it. I could make one smart quip which would be THE spoiler for people who've not seen it. The cast is excellent, a unique blend. Robert Deniro's role is a refreshing change from his usual; a genteel older father who puts tea on to boil and washes dishes. Dakota Fanning is a smart young actress. I didn't initially recognize Amy Irving! And it was great seeing Elisabeth Shue again.

Little Emily's father, David Callaway, is a prominent NYC psychiatrist. After mother Alison's suicide in the bathtub, Dr. Callaway takes Emily upstate. He rents a beautiful mansion, soon makes the acquaintance of a divorcee with her own young daughter. The neighbors, Laura and Steven, are a troubled and sad couple: Their daughter, about Emily's age, recently died.

And then Charlie enters the mix. We're first made aware of him after Emily's attracted, via butterfly, to an eerie cave. Emily rejects attempts at friendship by the locals, and instead becomes increasingly focused on Charlie and their game of hide and seek. Charlie quickly changes from harmless imaginary friend to something sinister and malicious. Dr. Callaway, good psychiatrist that he is, believes Charlie is a projection of Emily's troubled mind. He tries to coax Emily into admitting Charlie as part of her psyche. When the family cat winds up in a bad way, Dr. Callaway is genuinely frightened at Emily's troubles; just how ill -- and dangerous -- is she?

The sets are lavish and gorgeous. The acting is superb (of course!), the pacing is perfect. The story never lags and continually heats up. The ending is a shock, but unfortunately...I didn't quite buy it. ;-)

A *very* remarkable (and refreshing) element in this film is, even though it's 2005 and set in the modern era (cars and clothing), there are no computers, laptops, iPods, Blackberry/cellphones anywhere to be seen -- aside from MAYBE one indication of a faint and small computer screen in the far background (could be an aquarium though). The film's overall style, telling and atmosphere is retro-ish; it's 2005/1975 (if that makes any sense). Emily has no gadgets; she writes in a diary, draws with markers and plays with dolls. Yes, I know I'm typing this on a computer via the internet, but it was truly interesting to see 2005 without all the gadgetry clutter (especially cellphones - I hate them). The story was the focus, not gadgets. Oh -- and during the 2 (or 3?) telephone calls, they're talking via land line with CORDED phones! :-p

My version has 4 alternate endings. It's definitely re-watchable without the alternates. My overall impression was "The Changeling Meets The Shining."

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