Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|In a Dark Place|
Actors: Leelee Sobieski, Tara Fitzgerald, Christian Olson, Gabrielle Adam, Graham Pountney
Director: Donato Rotunno
Genres: Indie & Art House, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Anna Veigh, (Leelee Sobieski) a recently qualified art therapist and teacher is finding work a tougher psychological challenge that she had anticipated. The offer of a new position minding two young orphans while their we... more »
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Leelee Sobieski's performances drags down this atmospheric h
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/19/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Anna Veigh (Leelee Sobieski) is not cutting it as an art teacher in a city school, so she ends up getting a job as a nanny looking after two children in a remote countryside estate. Flora (Gabrielle Adam) and Miles (Christian Olson) lost their parents in a car accident and are now living with their uncle, who is away on a trip in Europe. Running the estate is Ms. Grose (Tara Fitzgerald), who wears formal wear to Anna's first dinner. Anna likes the kids, but then she starts seeing things and bit by bit she starts to discover what the hell is going on there. If the whole thing smacks of a Victorian era horror story, then you are on the right track, which is more than can be said for this 2006 film from first-time director Donato Rotunno.
This movie depends on Sobieski to carry the load and frankly she is not up to it for most of the film, alternating between frowning and blank stares as her character tries to puzzle things out. In her relationships with the children she does have a few moments where she connects, but her interactions with Ms. Grose are pretty bad. Anna might be the only person who does not pick up that Ms. Grose is a lesbian, but her admission of admiration for the housekeeper is quite painful and Anna's open-eyed blank stares during their brief lesbian encounter are much more confusing than revealing about her character. Her best scene is the last one and the ending was rather effective, which surprised me because I was totally prepared to give "In a Dark Place" an even lower rating until the final scene. But the surprisingly successful ending cannot totally reverse the downward spiral of this film.
I was also bothered by Sobieski's persistent near nudity, what with a couple of baths and a propensity to let her robe hang open, especially when standing in a window. One such scene would be one thing, but throw in everything we get in this film and suddenly I want to complain about the novel notion of gratuitous near nudity. Despite the brief "love" scene, Anna is neither a sexual nor a sensuous character, and for good reason given what we see and learn about her in the film, so every time the film ventures in that direction you have to wonder why. Maybe the idea is for us to stop thinking of the 24-year-old Sobieski as a child actress (or a young Helen Hunt), but her performance in this film would lead me to conclude that she is cannot carry a movie by herself as an actress.
"In a Dark Place" starts off by having the names of the two main actresses before the film's title and then dispenses with the rest of the credits because if they had told you up top what literary work was being adapted here that would give pretty much the whole game away. Instead, the credit comes up at the end and you go, "Duh, of course" (and if you decide to see this movie then the least I can do is to preserve that moment for your enjoyment, such as it might be). In the "making of" featurette the director talks about how he tried to sell the film as a new idea rather than as an adaptation, which might speak to the ignorance of Hollywood producers when it comes to knowing literature (not that making the same movie over and over again has never bothered tinsel town). Cinematographer Jean-Francois Hensgen gives the film a nice look and the original music by first-time composer Adam Pendse helps, but Rotunno could have overcome some of the weakness of Sobieski's performance by picking up the pacing in the long set-up of the film before things pick up at the end."
Mangy Fox | 07/17/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I read the reviews and despite some of the negatives I decided to give it a try. I really wish I hadn't. It took a very very long time before anything even remotely interesting happened. This wasn't so much a ghost story as a story about psychosis and abuse, poorly told at that. It was absolutely dismal as far as entertainment value. Not scary at all. Not interesting at all. Just lame. the only halfway entertaining bit is getting a few glimpses of leelees almost nekkid body, girls got it going on...but even then a rip off, no actual nudity on leelee's part."
Unsuccessful Attempt to Update Henry James' Classic Novella
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 08/18/2007
(2 out of 5 stars)
"Hollywood is fond of updating classic tales: Shakespeare is the author most often reconfigured, at times with great success, at times not. The intellectually stimulating works of Henry James have been brought to the screen and making visual the inherently cerebral stories come to life. Such, sadly, is not the case for IN A DARK PLACE, a warping and distorted 'update' of one of the finest ghost stories ever written - James' 1898 TURN OF THE SCREW. Screenwriter Peter Waddington adapted the story to place in our faces fully realized interpretations of what James used as suggestion: James realized that the reader's mind could infuse his story with personal demons that would replace the need for detailed description.
Cases in point: the Governess is here an art teacher given a name, Anna Veigh; the occult sexual overtones of the story are played out in full view leaving little to the frightening aspects of James' intentions; the concentration of the story on the governess' mental fragility is forced into clichés and placed in the hands of an actress unable to be subtle; the 'interiority' of the mansion is replaced by equal time outside on the snowy grounds (opening up the story, so they say), etc.
The story is well known, having been adapted successfully before by television, movies, and opera (Benjamin Britten's immensely well written opera TURN OF THE SCREW). Anna Veigh (Leelee Sobieski) is the art therapist turned governess who upon losing her job is hired to care for the children Flora (Gabrielle Adam) and Miles (Christian Olson) in a now deserted mansion whose only other occupant is the secretary/estate manager Ms. Grose (Tara Fitzgerald). Soon enough Anna discovers that the previous governess Miss Jessel (another art therapist who was three months pregnant) was found dead in the lake, and that the prior male butler Peter Quint hanged himself. Anna alone begins to see the ghosts of these newly departed servants, and when she explores the reasons with Ms. Grose we discover the Ms. Grose was in love with Miss Jessel and hated Peter Quint. Anna is frequently visited by nightmares of her own sexual abuse as a young girl and transfers these fears onto Flora and Miles, feeling that they were similarly abused - an explanation for their bizarre behavior patterns. Ms. Grose acts out her sexuality with Anna, confusing Anna even more, and stressing her vulnerable psyche into thinking she can exorcise the demons of the house. And the ending will surprise us all!
Director Donato Rotunno needs to re-read the James novella and rely on the audience's intelligence more than to alter the story to become faddist and frank instead of subtle and suspenseful. A major problem with the casting is the far too frequently physically exposed Leelee Sobieski: it feels as though she is reading her rather pedestrian lines from a cue card off camera. It is a sad imitation of the governess. Tara Fitzgerald's Ms. Grose is not the obese, matronly of the original, but instead a very svelte and seductive woman: she succeeds in creating a credible alternative figure very well. The setting and photography are fine, but the musical score by Adam Pendse is a pedestrian mix of incongruous styles. In short, if you are a fan of Henry James, avoid this sloppy work. But then, if Leelee Sobieski is a favorite, then you see more of her as a grown woman than you probably will ever see again! Not Recommended. Grady Harp, August 07
C. Pallister | Detroit, MI | 07/13/2007
(1 out of 5 stars)
"I LOVE Leelee, I think she's great, this film however was a stinker. I was hoping for a good scare, but all I got was confused. Although well acted, the story was boring and weird"