Can you spell "objective correlative.."
John Bonavia | Needham, MA USA | 06/14/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I guess plenty of reviewers have outlined the story, and so far the few I have read have not given away the dramatic secret near the end (though several claim that it becomes obvious early on - well, I guess I'm just slow or something..) Of course, after that one can see much more meaning in many of the scenes earlier in the movie.
I endorse all those who have found it a masterful, dark, sexually charged retelling of the tale, and like them I love the constant interplay between the (not-so-angelic!) Angels and Insects of the title. Yes, there are many neat similarities between the bustling ant colonies that William studies and the claustrophobic life of the well-to do family in their hierarchically-run mansion. Roger Ebert did a very good job of describing this at [...]- though he made one egregious error, describing William as a Scotsman! Ah, Americans will never get these accents straight - William is a North-Country, or perhaps North or West Midlands, Englishman.
Some find it slow going at first - I can only say I did not, just enjoying the excellent re-creation of late 19th century English country house life is sufficient pleasure. So much is done so well: the servants standing like unnoticed statuary in the background while main characters talk or argue over the most personal things: also how the servants stop and turn to the wall so as to be politely "invisible" when one of the household passes them on the stairs.
The only quibble - perhaps dealt with more clearly in the novel, which I haven't read - is William's absolute certainty that after the shipwreck he would be totally lost for any way to make a living. It seems he was already known as a naturalist of repute - surely there would have been some post in academia, even if humble? But then of course we would have had no story.
I'm always amused by those who have to "warn" us that there is some nudity in the film. Oh, that human body is such a scary thing, and of course none of us have ever seen one before! Considering the way the plot turns out, none of the sexual elements are irrelevant.