Wednesday, 20 May 2009
Coraline - movie review
We didn't see it in the most favourable of circumstances, but Coraline jumped straight into "possibly the best film I've seen this year, so far" ranking. If it's not too late where you are, I do urge you to catch this gem of a movie.
Yes, it's a fairy story, but ... Adapted from the kids' book by Neil Gaiman, it bears all that author's hallmark themes: that childhood is a time of suffering, that geeks and girls are both really cool, that merciless ancient powers lurk round every corner and it's cunning and courage that'll save you, if anything can. And in the case of this particular movie, that mothers are scary. Really really scary.
I wouldn't take any child under the age of 10 to see this film, despite its family-friendly certificate. It would have given me nightmares for years, as a child. But then I am the sensitive sort.
The Plot: Coraline's mother and father have taken her to live miles away from her old home in an apartment in a spooky old house inhabited by eccentric adults. Buried in their work (they're both writers, ahem) and strapped for cash, the parents don't have much time or patience to spare for angry, bored Coraline or for domestic comforts. Her mother in particular is pretty grouchy and Coraline resents the fact she's not motherly in a traditional way (she doesn't cook, for example). Then Coraline discovers a tiny door that's been wallpapered over, and in the middle of the night this door opens on a magic tunnel that leads to a mirror version of the house, with mirror versions of her family. Everything is the same ... but different. Her Other Mother devotes herself to cooking wonderful meals, her Other Father is a bundle of fun, writing songs and building gardens that are all about how lovely their Coraline is. Both Other Parents are entirely Coroline-centred, and at first this narcisistic fantasy seems like heaven to the sub-teen. There's only one small catch: her Other Parents have shiny plastic buttons instead of eyes, and when they 'invite' her to stay with them forever, one of the conditions is that she's going to have to have buttons sewn to her eyes too.
So Coraline tries to run...
Visually, the stop-motion animation is a inventive, glittering delight. We saw it in 2D but it's also being screened in 3D which is probably even more mind-bending. A wise, clever, disturbing film that'll become a cult classic, I reckon.