Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
TERRY Gilliam has been forced to endure his fair share of Grimm
luck when it comes to making movies.
His long-held ambition to make The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
with Johnny Depp only got as far as a documentary chronicling
its failure, in the form of Lost in La Mancha.
While the production of The Brothers Grimm was far from easy,
given that the film was dumped by the Weinstein brothers when
they fell out with Disney and endured plenty of cast changes and
technical difficulties along the way.
As things stand, it's a fairly enjoyable 19th Century romp, far
from Gilliam's best work but passably amusing when taken on its
Matt Damon and Heath Ledger star as the Brothers Grimm of the
title, who make a living for themselves by conning peasants out
of their money by performing fake exorcisms of mythical legends.
Their scam is uncovered by the occupying French forces, who force
them to investigate a real mystery in exchange for their lives.
But the case in question - involving the disappearance of several
young girls in a haunted forest - proves far more perilous than
they could ever have imagined, not least because they find themselves
dealing with supernatural forces beyond their control.
The film works as well as it does
for several reasons, the most significant of which is the look.
The 19th Century fantasy world that Gilliam creates is both enchanting
and sinister in equal measure.
The Grimms-style villages and architecture lend the film an authenticity
its special effects can't always match, while the sinister woods
are genuinely creepy.
It provides a wonderful backdrop for the actors to work their
magic - although in terms of performance, the film is a similarly
Ledger and Damon seem to be having fun and provide an amusing
double-act, while Monica Bellucci provides an imposing presence
as a sleeping beauty turned wicked witch.
But the likes of Peter Stormare and Jonathan Pryce veer into
pantomime-style villainy and are completely over the top with
accents that render their characters both difficult to understand
and harder to take seriously.
That said, given the difficult history surrounding the making
of the film, it's a tribute to Gilliam's persistence and talent
as a filmmaker that things have turned out as good as they have
(he originally wanted Johnny Depp and Nicole Kidman to star and
lost his first-choice director of photography as well).
For while by no means a classic, these fantastical brothers are
by no means as Grimm as many were predicting and actually conspire
to ensure that Gilliam gets the happy ending his efforts deserve.
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