h1

The Brothers Grimm Are Delightful Company

November 5, 2008

THE BROTHERS GRIMM (2005)
d. Terry Gilliam 

Terry Gilliam once again proves to be a director of such a strong singular vision that you can immediately tell when you’re watching one of his films. This time he is ably assisted by Matt Damon and Heath Ledger as the title characters.

The film tells the story of the Brothers Grimm and how they traverse French-occupied Germany (ho ho!) bamboozling superstitious peasants by pretending to exorcise supernatural witches and beastie that haunt their villages.

It isn’t until they are captured by the French (Jonathan Pryce) and forced to investigate the disappearance of several children do they come across the real deal — an ages old queen (the voluptuous Monica Belucci, playing evil deliciously) who, in a bid for immortality, got the extended lifespan but not the beauty; she therefore has a werewolf kidnap the children for their blood.

The Brothers Grimm, initially in over their heads, rise to the occasion with the help of an exiled huntress (a gorgeous Lena Headey) who discovers a familial bond with the Queen’s lycanthropic servant.

The movie plays to the strengths of Terry Gilliam’s cynical dark humour and displays the typical attention to minutiae in the sets and costumes that he is known for. He gets great performances from both Damon and Ledger, acknowledging in his commentary that they played parts against type. Ledger is especially fun to watch as he plays the more shy and introverted Jake to Damon’s bullying and slick Will.

The supporting cast also gets some great actors. Jonathan Pryce is always fun to watch, and Peter Stormare as an Italian torturer gets some good bits as well.

He also does a great job conflating several folktale characters to create new but recognizable archetypes — Belucci’s queen collapses elements of The Princess and the Pea, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, et al.; we also see a young girl with a Red Riding Cape (har har!), two of the village children are Hansel and Greta, etc. He makes a fun way of acknowledging the source material, while twisting it for his own needs, all the while chortling with mischief.

Perhaps my only complaint is that Lena Headey is way too gorgeous to be believable as a woodsperson, but whatever.

So while this is good Terry Gilliam, it’s not great Terry Gilliam (Brazil, 12 Monkeys), but I’ll take it. *** stars.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: