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"I saw this is a very unpopular movie..as I bought it in the $5 bin at the electronics store. I watched it and saw it was actually pretty good. I can see why a lot of people don't like it, because it can be very confusing and misleading at times, but I thought it is very suspensful and fun. :)"
Grabs your attention, then leaves you hanging
HELEN MCKENZIE | NJ, United States | 10/16/2003
(2 out of 5 stars)
"I'm not a horror fan, but I got this DVD for free, the cover looked attractive and boasted Harvey Keitel, and so I thought it couldn't be that bad. Well, I was very disappointed. The mood and atmosphere were quite stunning, and I must admit I was hooked at the beginning, but then after about 45 minutes, it was getting a bit monotonous and kinda leading to nowhere. The story is based on Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw", about a mysterious man's niece and nephew who live on an island in a . . . you guessed it, a so called haunted house. Harvey, the uncle, is seen in only one scene for about 5 minutes when he interviews the new, inexperienced governess. From the start, we notice superb acting and rich costumes very fitting to the eerie yet hypnotic and serene mood. Everyone during conversations , including the governess who is the newcomer, seem to have secrets well hidden, and this intrigues the viewer and definitely builds suspense. In fact, throughout the movie, her past remains much a mystery, which is quite disappointing since it seems far more interesting than the so called ghosts that "haunt" the children.The film evolves in a well paced manner (at least for a psychological thriller) as we get bits and pieces (literally scraps) of the story from the maid, but the appearances of the ghosts are so few and far apart and so pointless that you sometimes forget the plot of the story. The characters, though, are all so very interesting, especially that boy, Miles. His interaction with the governess is quite subtle yet bold at times . . . enough to make you raise a brow and wonder what he's up to. It's obvious he's confused about a thing or two he witnessed from the former ground's caretaker and governess, both who are now the tormented souls wondering around the property seeking the souls of the children. The movie is quite good to study, but don't watch it to be spooked or thrilled to the bones. It leaves you feeling empty, yet the beautiful photography and stunning visuals leave a lasting impression and at least gives the viewer the fuel to continue to the end of what some may feel to be rather dull.I'll give it 2 stars and an additional 1/2 for arousing my curiousity and interest still a day later after seeing it."
"To Save Oneself By Saving Innocence"
Brian E. Erland | Brea, CA - USA | 08/16/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Synopsis: The '00 film 'Presence of Mind' is a slow but often haunting tale of the supernatural about an attractive but repressed young woman (Sadie Frost) who takes a position as governess over two children in a rambling mansion haunted by the previous custodian and governess. It's a story of mysterious pasts and untold secrets both on the part of the new governess and the children who are continual found playing near the areas where the two previous tenant died.
In an attempt to save the two children she attempts to persuade them to admit they're in communication with these two hostile spirits in the hope that consciously acknowledging their presence will set them free. Will her strategy be successful or will it only make the situation worse?
Critique: The story line of 'Presence of Mind' is a clever attempt at dealing with two aspects of haunting, the existence of ghosts and the more personal realm of inner demons within that play an integral role in shaping who we are and how we perceive the outer world. The film also delivers a strong, very Catholic subplot of "redemption through suffering" which gives the plot added substance and meaning. The soundtrack works beautifully with the visuals and theme, it's simple, flowing and intensely melancholy.
Unfortunately I found the ending to be unnecessarily obscure leaving too many aspects of this complex tale unexplored. Also, if you're primarily considering to view this film because you're a Harvey Keitel fan be forewarned, he's only on screen for about four minutes or less.
My Rating: Overall satisfying but could have been better; -3 1/2 Stars-. "
A splendid attempt
Krazed Kat | 01/07/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"A splendid retelling of the Henry James classic ghost story `The Turn of the Screw' featuring Sadie Frost, Lauren Bacall and a brief appearance by Harvey Keitel. Set in a sun bleached Spanish location the story concerns a governess who comes to a rambling old mansion to care for two siblings who may or may not be possessed by the spirits of two servants previously employed at the house. It's for the viewer to ultimately decide whether the spirits exist externally or are demons in the haunted mind of the sexually repressed governess.The photography is luminous and the sets and costumes brilliant. Lauren Bacall's performance is thoughtful and restrained while the children steal the show by being convincingly sinister while exuding childish innocence. The main weakness is a plot that relies on nothing more than a few brief ghostly apparitions accompanied by spooky sound affects. Most of the horror takes place off screen and `things that go bump in the night' - and the day - may not be enough to frighten contemporary audiences. Another weakness is Sadie Frost's portrayal of the governess: her acting is unconvincing and at times her hysterics border on the amateur. But she's too well supported by the other cast members to harm the film and the production values are so high that `Presence of Mind' is a pleasure to look at and spend a relaxing ninety minutes being lulled into a different world of sunshine and shadows and the possibility that ghost appear in daylight too.`Presence of Mind' is definitely one to watch late at night if you enjoy and your spine gently tingled before bedtime."
The message is clear
R. Davies | Spain | 09/06/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A wonderful and complex tale full of insights on the impact of child abuse. Brilliant acting from the four main players. The message at the end clear and rang true. Name your tormentor."