MARCH 7, 2009
You will be seeing a lot less “Store Rental” sources after this, as Blockbuster has foolishly revised their “trade at the store” program. Now you don’t get another one mailed to you until you return the one you rented at the store. They try to make it sound like a good thing, by pointing out that they have removed due dates for movies rented at the store by trading in an envelope, but this is actually BAD for movies like Dorothy Mills, where they only get a couple of copies. I could theoretically keep this movie forever and deny a customer who relies on renting films in the store from ever seeing it. Plus, it goes without saying that I burn through a lot of rentals, and by essentially halving the number that I can have out at once, I might cancel my Blockbuster account entirely and upgrade my Netflix, which has a superior selection and the Xbox viewing thing for when I am desperate, whereas Blockbuster now offers no perks whatsoever (the instore trade-in being the ONLY reason I hadn’t already given up on them).
Anyway, Dorothy Mills is the type of movie I enjoy but would probably never recommend. You can’t say “it’s good” to anyone, because they will be bored by it (it’s a slow movie). And if you TELL them it’s slow, they probably won’t bother anyway. Like The Return, Dorothy is a movie that’s best to go in without even knowing what genre it is, and enjoying the story for what it is rather than obsess over the fact that there aren’t any kills or “action”.
And even for me, it’s a bit too slow at times. Certain aspects of the story seem superfluous, like a weird bit where the town’s men kill an animal and one of them gets blood smeared on his face. It’s, I guess, supposed to further drive home the “in this village we do things our own way and like it just fine” angle, but by that time in the movie, the point had already been made clear. Also, there are numerous flashbacks to the key incident that drives the plot, and some of them could be trimmed (i.e. do we really need THREE scenes of the 3 kids driving recklessly, especially when the accident occurs at a different time entirely?). Some trimming could have worked wonders and possibly even swayed a few folks who are dismissing the film as a whole because of its non-spectacle approach.
What DOES work is the performances (particularly of the title character, who needs to play about 6 different characters, technically), the sad story, and the locale. I dunno why Ireland doesn’t get used more often for horror movies; not only is it always appropriately dreary (there’s a hilarious part where someone comments on it being a beautiful day, but they don’t actually show you the exterior world as it was likely overcast at best), and simply interesting looking to boot. Doing a period piece wouldn’t take much effort, nor does it seem completely lost in time. Also the crew would have easy access to whiskey. Oh, maybe that’s why.
There is one bit of the film I chuckled at, because it seemed rather silly. Our heroine’s requisite “family tragedy” involves the accidental drowning of her son. So when it comes time for her to clutch a photo of him, we see that the photo is of the kid... near the water. I have to assume that as his mother, she would have plenty of photos of him. So the one she takes around with her bears a full blown reminder of how he died? I mean, it’s one thing if the deceased a soldier who died in the war and you wanted to honor that by carrying a photo of him in uniform around, but that’s not the case for a little kid. That’d be like if your kid got decapitated on the roller coaster at six flags because he stood up on it, and your prized photo is that 12 dollar blurry thing with him and 3 other people that they offer you as you exit the ride.
The DVD’s sole extra besides the trailer is a needlessly obnoxious making of piece. It runs about a half hour, and it’s the typically bland affair one would expect, but they make it damn near unwatchable for an English speaking audience with its subtitles. Apparently designed for France, French subtitles are burned into the thing for whenever someone is speaking English. However, half the time people are speaking French, so English speaking folks need to turn the English subs on, but the subs stay on even when people are speaking English! At times, half the screen is covered in text. A little effort next time, Weinstein/Genius?
Ultimately, the DVD’s biggest blunder is comparing it to The Exorcist on the cover blurb (even using the same font!). That just sets people up for disappointment right off the bat, and it’s even more frustrating when it’s not even that accurate and mars an otherwise excellent cover. Sure, a little girl swears and a priest tries to help, but that doesn’t make it “a contemporary take” on Friedkin’s film. There are enough legitimate ripoffs of that movie in the world, we don’t need other ones getting thrown into the mix when it’s not even warranted.
What say you?