Monday, October 27, 2014

El Orfanato

(2007)
****1/2
Anything with Guillermo del Toro’s name plastered across it piques my interest, even if he was just sitting back and being Producer. I love the color composition that toys with my emotions, the music uplifting my spirit or making me feel as downtrodden as the characters I see on-screen.

Laura gets adopted as a young child from an orphanage and returns years later with her husband (who bears a striking resemblance to Phil Collins) to buy the same mansion, weathered and creaky and creepy from time, so she can help out other unwanted children and “pay it forward” so to speak. 

When she’s not preparing the mansion for its reopening she takes care of their son Simon, whom we find out early is also adopted and HIV-positive (ssh! Simon doesn’t know it, though!) I immediately found Simon adorable and wanted to play with him and his invisible friends. But unfortunately things turn mean and nasty -- Simon finds out Laura isn’t his biological mother -- and then things turn creepy as Simon disappears and Laura finds out more about the history of her beloved orphanage than she ever thought existed.
Por qué los adultos nos mienten los niños?
Surprisingly, this movie has all the qualities that find me fascinated, but I think there are a few reasons why I’m not bursting at the seams with superlatives about El Orfanato:
→ Seeing Pan’s Labyrinth before this put anything with del Toro’s name on a pretty high pedestal for me.
→ My “Everyone else loves it, why should I?” contrarian nature. I know, I’ll get over myself.
→ The quick conclusion and denouement didn’t make me emotional and was, I found, a little too mushy/predictable.
During Horrorthon, I abandon all hope of a happy ending.
The mystery of El Orfanato and where all Simon’s invisible friends come from is an interesting one to watch, one I would rewatch in the future in the company of friends to see if I catch any subtleties, but I’m not in any hurry.

5 comments:

Octopunk said...

Nice review, Crystal. I will also check out anything sporting Guillermo Del Toro's name, even though he's often hit-or-miss. Or he comes through on parts of a movie but makes some dealbreaker errors. I do hope he manages to make Lovecraft's Mountains of Madness into a movie.

Man, everyone watched The Orphanage in 2008! I just noticed that my off-'thon review wasn't on the Monster List and corrected that.

This movie crystallized my feelings about movies that leave it open-ended whether or not there even IS a supernatural in the world of the movie. To whit (yes, quoting myself):

"Unfortunately, this open possibility that it was all in her head and there were never any ghosts -- even as a peripheral, sideline thematic point -- really burns my bacon. You're a movie, for crap sake! Don't tell me it's all pretend -- don't tell me your world doesn't have ghosts. Don't dare to remind me how the real, mundane world can barge in and ruin everything. I don't need the reminder, dummy, I already live here."

Crystal Math said...

Hilarious, Octo! Thanks for quoting yourself because I don't think I saw it yesterday before publishing the review. Also I hate movies that go for the "it's-all-pretend" twist! You're a movie! You're supposed to "go there!" It's supposed to be surreal.

Speaking of surreal and going there I'm just polishing off my review of Antichrist!

Catfreeek said...

Crystal check out The Devil's Backbone, I think it's a great Del Toro film and think you will enjoy it as well.

Octopunk said...

"You're a movie! You're supposed to 'go there!'"

Perfect. I wish I'd said it that way.

AC said...

sounds fantastic!