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Warning you about crappy movies since 2008.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Two Reviews in One: Two Girls in Trouble

The Chronic Critic saw two movies this weekend. In an effort to maximize her efficiency, she will now attempt to review both films in a single blog entry.

Jane Eyre and Annie Cameron are both young girls in trouble.

Jane is a strong-willed, independent, somewhat plain girl who has been orphaned and is being raised by a wicked aunt. She lives in England in the mid-1800s.

Annie is a strong-willed, independent, somewhat plain girl who has a loving, nurturing family. She lives in Chicago in the present-day, digital age.  

In both girls' stories, secrets nearly undo them.

In the latest screen adaptation of Charlotte Bronte's novel, Jane (Mia Wasikowska) is anachronistically self-reliant. Due only to her will and wits, she escapes the cruel lot to which her hateful aunt has consigned her and makes her way to a country estate whose lord is one dashing, wealthy, mysterious Edward Rochester (Michael Fassbender). Jane works as a governess for a young French girl who winds up living in the mansion, and ole Edward can't help but take notice of her smarts and no-nonsense attitude. Very much unlike the flighty, flirty gals he's used to courting. But, Edward is a secretive sort. And, that castle seems kinda haunted. Mysterious fires get started. Mysterious strangers from foreign lands show up. And, the seemingly kindly Edward is none too forthcoming about any of it. What's he hiding?

In Trust, David Schwimmer's directorial debut, the protagonist is a 14-year-old trying to assert her independence. She has all the latest technical gadgetry, but her folks (Clive Owen and Catherine Keener) don't seem to be familiar with parental controls. She starts chatting up a slightly older boy (he's 16) and develops a mad crush. Before she knows it, "Charlie" has confessed that he's actually a college sophomore. Fast forward a few days, and he admits online he's actually in his 20s. It's too late. Annie's already walked into his trap and has allowed herself to be convinced that this age thing doesn't matter. When we finally see "Charlie" for the first time, we're not surprised to discover that his 20s are a distant memory. Annie is surprised, though.

Both heroines fall for potentially dangerous men.

Annie's "boyfriend" (and that really is how she thinks of him), will seduce and rape her. Her family -- particularly her dad -- will come apart. Jane's suitor has a secret of his own that will devastate her and drive them apart.

Jane Eyre is a beautifully made, superbly acted Gothic soap opera. The legendary Dame Judi Dench is a delight to watch as the caretaker of the manor. And, even the smallest roles -- Sally Hawkins as the wicked aunt, for instance -- are perfectly cast and played.

Trust, on the other hand, has the feel of an after-school special or made-for-TV movie. In spite of the fine acting, this cautionary tale feels like something that was much better suited to the small screen. Not surprisingly, Schwimmer is a straightforward, and at times dull, director. This is very conventional filmmaking, right down to the stereotypical frumpy psychologist (Viola Davis) in an oversized cardigan.

The audience is beaten over the head with the sexy images of scantily clad tween girls in ads that Annie's dad, Will (the owner of an ad agency), has created. So, not only does Will feel guilt over allowing Annie unfettered access to sex chat rooms, he now has to live with the guilt over having contributed to the societal exploitation of young girls. Maybe he has, but the link is made way too overt in Schwimmer's hands.

Both Jane and Annie are likable heroines worth rooting for. But, only one movie is worth your money. Jane Eyre: See it. Trust: Skip it.

Jane Eyre   Trust

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