Tag: ella purnell

Intruders


Intruders (2011)
★★ / ★★★★

As Juan (Izán Corchero) slept in his bed, he was suddenly attacked by a faceless monster from one of his stories. With the help of his determined mother, Luisa (Pilar López de Ayala), they were able to escape from the grasp of the cloaked figure. However, their freedom proved to be temporary when Luisa became convinced that there was an evil inside her son. Meanwhile, on a completely different country, Mia (Ella Purnell) was plagued by nightmares of the same faceless figure. John (Clive Owen), Mia’s father, tried to convince her that the monster was all a part of her imagination. That is, until he saw for himself that the man without a face, Hollowface, hid in Mia’s walk-in closet. Based on the screenplay by Nicolás Casariego and Jamie Maeques, “Intruders” had the makings of a wonderful horror-thriller in its first thirty minutes but was ultimately disappointing because its middle section comprised of characters getting into similar situations with similar outcomes to the point where the material felt tired instead of new. While it made sense that the filmmakers initially wished to highlight the similarities and differences between Juan and Mia’s stories, the script seemed unable to break free from passively jumping back and forth between the children’s perspectives that the delivery of the scares became predictable and convoluted. The film, however, was able to offer a few genuinely suspenseful scenes which helped to keep the unfocused project afloat. For example, in the middle of the night, John found his daughter, after she’d had a nightmare, sitting on her bed and playing with a flashlight. She seemed intent on searching for something in the darkness. As he finished consoling her, Mia finally turned the flashlight off. To John’s horror, he heard several creaks coming from his daughter’s closet. It could be that they weren’t alone. I admired that such a scene, and others like it, was allowed to play out instead of relying on quick cuts followed by a next day narrative and cheap false alarms. The horrifying images felt so unbelievable at times that it was like we were inside the children’s nightmares. We were forced to question what was real and what wasn’t. However, there were also moments when the material was too eager to please. The visual effects, as impressive as they looked, in the second half didn’t feel right for the story. It allowed us to see too much. The picture was at its best when we were forced to use our imagination and guess what could be hiding in the poorly lit corner of the room. Moreover, the material also missed an opportunity to play with its visual style. One strand of the story took place in Spain and the other in England. It was such a letdown that the director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, didn’t attempt to play with colors, mood, or atmosphere. It seemed like the only way the audiences could tell whether what was in front of us was taking place in England or Spain was the language that was spoken and, of course, which characters were in front of the camera. It was mostly one note, self-servingly serious. “Intruders,” despite its good ideas, lacked an element of surprise. For a work that championed the power of imagination, its core needed a dose of its own medicine.

Never Let Me Go


Never Let Me Go (2010)
★★★ / ★★★★

Kathy (Izzy Meikle-Small), Tommy (Charlie Rowe), and Ruth (Ella Purnell) lived in Hailsham, an English boarding school led by Miss Emily (Charlotte Rampling), all their lives. The three children shared a strong bond. Kathy and Ruth’s beds were next to each other so they learned to become friends over the years. Smart and artistic Kathy began to have feelings for Tommy who was kind-hearted but often rejected by his peers. Ruth, on the other hand, was one of Tommy’s passive tormentors but she wanted to make Kathy jealous so she began to spend more time with the social outcast. Miss Lucy’s (Sally Hawkins) arrival in Hailsham made an important impact in the trio’s lives because she revealed their true purpose. Many reviews kept their readers blind about the dark secret involving the children. I don’t think it’s necessary because the children being clones and future organ donors was just the template of this morally and emotionally complex story which was based on a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. The core of the story was how Kathy, Tommy, and Ruth (played by Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley, respectively, in later years) dealt with the revelation that they weren’t going to live long lives or realize any of their long-term dreams. It made me question how I would start living if I’ve been told that I could be notified at any time that someone needed my organs and I could possibly die for someone I haven’t met. None of the three tried to run away after their discovery. I was curious why they didn’t. Maybe they thought it was a selfish thing to do. Having made aware that they were clones, they were always on the lookout for Possibles, their look-alikes, the models in which they shared 100% of their DNA. The material made powerful implications that genes had more impact than the environment from which one was raised. For instance, Kathy’s belief that she was modeled from a prostitute or a pornographic actress because she had strong urges to have sex even as a child. She tried to stop those urges which made her shut down other important aspects of herself like acting on her attraction toward Tommy. Another moving element in the picture was Tommy’s misplaced expectations about a possible deferral from organ donations given that a couple was able to prove their love for one another. His willingness to look into the impossible reminded me of David’s quest to find the Blue Fairy in Steven Spielberg’s highly underrated “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” Both characters wanted to be with someone they loved so desperately. They wanted to live a meaningful life so badly, they were willing to turn to the fantastic. “Never Let Me Go,” adroitly directed by Mark Romanek, was a poignant film that wasn’t solely about the ethics of organ donations and the cruel destiny laid out for the characters. Personally, I thought it was more about the powerless making small but critical decisions with the cards that they were given. The odds were against them, comparable to why we often find ourselves rooting for the underdogs in competitions.