Movie Reviews 169 – The Others (2001)

The OthersFighting off the pain of her lost husband who never returned after the end of WWII despite it ending more than a year earlier, Grace Stewart (Nicole Kidman) is already strained by the burden and fear with keeping her two young children shielded from all sources of light in order to appease their allergy to it. Living in a remote old English mansion, her despair and isolation are suddenly magnified when she awakens one day to find that all the hired help have suddenly left. When an elder couple arrives at her doorstep with a younger deaf mute girl in tow, she hires them on the spot and sets out all the ground rules on how to handle the children and their rare ailment.

As you can imagine, depicting a family living in near perpetual darkness with candlelight as the only source of illumination, the sinister mood for the movie is conveniently cemented in The Others. Grace remains strict, but loving and devoted to her children, but when the family’s isolation is further tested with eerie screams, and sounds and visions of another child in the house, it brings her to the verge of a breakdown. Something ominous is afoot but it’s really hard to tell who’s hearing or seeing things. The audience commiserates with both the children’s plight and Grace’s woes and while all the facts seem clear we can’t quite figure out what exactly is going on. One thing is clear, the new hired hands know exactly what is going on but they aren’t telling.

Great acting all around but especially from Kidman who is in top form. Just watch her riveting eyes and you’ll see what I mean (In fact, she was at nominated for a Golden Globe as best actress in a drama for this movie. She lost, but I suspect that part of the reason for losing was that she was also up for best actress in a comedy or musical and won for that category for Moulin Rouge).

The only issue I have with the movie is that at one point the surprise ending becomes all too obvious based on one particular event and from there on all intrigue and suspense was lost as I just watched the plot plod to it’s inevitable conclusion. But even so it was nice to see all the pieces suddenly coming together and making perfect sense.

This was director Alejandro Amenábar’s first English language movie and sadly he has not done much since. He did write and direct the original Spanish version of Vanilla Sky that was later remade by Hollywood so I may have to track down that original to see some of his other works.

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