Thursday, 14 October 2010

A Company Of Wolves

A collage of wolf tales with no real direction or purpose, I couldn’t settle into this film. Unlike Cat People which mastered the power of suggestion, this film used the power of sexual symbolism to draw up unconscious images of the big bad wolf and his sexual prowess; but in what context and why? Was it just to explore the nature of the beast, or could there have been some other underlining tale that linked the intertwined short stories to the sleeping beauty at the beginning of the film. In the opening scenes we see Rosaleen (Sarah Patterson) fast asleep in her room, with her sister Alice (Georgia Slowe) rapping on the door and abusively requesting an audience with Rosaleen when their parents returned home. Her sleep is so deep she seems to have drifted into an alternative reality, but where that is, is not explained. There is no background story to explain the obviously dysfunctional relationship between the sisters, or the reason for her deep sleep, did she eat an enchanted apple, or what?

" A young girl dreams she is Rosaleen, who, wearing a red cape, carries her basket through the woods to Granny's house. Along the way, she meets and flirts with a werewolf in the guise of a man, and promises him a kiss if he reaches Granny's house before her.”
This one quote sums up, much of the whole film! What else can I write? Well, during Rosaleen’s dream is where ninety-nine per-cent of the film takes place. The young innocent maiden sees her sister Alice making her way through a very dark and enchanted forest, we do not know where or what this wood is called. The sister is lost and strays from the path further into the heart of the forest. She encounters giant toys that come alive, grabbing at her. Wolves lurk in shadows, waiting to pounce. The wolves corner Alice and kill her. Why did Rosaleen conceive her sister’s death, what is the background giving rise to Rosaleen’s thoughts? I don’t know why I ask, because nobody knows. Anyway, the alarm is raised and the villagers go wolf hunting. With that slight distraction out of the way, we now look at Rosaleen’s character, a young girl who is not so much curious with her sexuality, but with others’, mainly boys, who are eager to explore hers. With the neighbour’s son in hot pursuit and a suspicious gentleman entranced by her, impels Granny to guide Rosaleen on to the right forest path, warning her to beware of men who are hairy on the inside. “A bag full of symbolic folklore about werewolves, or, rather, their sexual connotation. Granny tells her granddaughter Rosaleen strange, disturbing tales about innocent maidens falling in love with handsome, heavily eyebrowed strangers with a smoldering look in their eyes”. The method of intertwining tales within a film fills in gaps and ties up loose ends. Unfortunately Rosaleen’s and Granny’s (Angela Lansbury) short stories do not produce such effect. They only convey a message of the nature of wolves and a structure on being weary of hairy men, adding to my confusion about this movie! The Company Of Wolves has a few horrific scenes - the transformation of a woodsman into a wolf at his estranged wife’s house is quite gruesome, but unrealistic. The few other transformations in the film are by noblemen, but none as horrific as the woodsman.

“The characters in Jordan's film of Angela Carter's story inhabit a magical, mysterious world of cruelty and wonder, rarely seen in cinema. In tales within tales within tales, dream is reality; wolves are human, and vice-versa. Rarely has this Gothic landscape of the imagination been so perfectly conveyed by film; there is simply a precise, resonant portrayal of a young girl's immersion in fantasies where sexuality is both fearful and seductive.” I disagree with these reviews that portray this film as magical and dreamy, in the sort of traditional fantasy genre. Yes, most dreams are strange and disjointed such as this film, as the majority of people wake up the next morning trying to piece together what happened the previous night. This is not what I want to see when I visit the cinema or Blockbusters to spend time and money. I want an entertaining, preferably original, story, and if needs be, flashy special FX. This abstract Picasso like film, with its dislocated story failed to draw me into its so-called magical world of wolves and hairy men, whose eyebrows meet in the middle. "Granny knows a great deal, but she doesn't know everything. And if there is a beast inside every man, he meets his match in the beast inside of every woman." Granny surely did not know everything, or she would have stayed at home when they were filming this movie, and the beast in every man should be neutered before embarking on any editing or production work! Good luck.

1 comment:

  1. Hey! What a grumpy review :-( Here, you confuse your need for a traditional narrative with the proficiencies of the film-maker; just because an artist doesn't conform to existing formulas doesn't mean they are incompetent. In many respects, this review is MUCH too personal in tone; while some reviewers do take this very personal stance (and can be entertaining with it) the best find a way to communicate their issues without succumbing to poking out their tongues! You're going to see a great many films that might test your view on the 'purpose' of watching them; not all filmmakers have Blockbusters in mind when they commence a project!