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.


Nikki Magennis said...

I love living in the middle of nowhere, but I do miss CINEMAS.

: (

Looks brilliant, if rather disturbing.

Saskia Walker said...

Snap! We loved it too, but totally agree, I wouldn't have wanted to see it as a child. I had nightmares after Snow White. I couldn't believe that people had brought tiny tots to Coraline! There WAS crying, not surprisingly. Not from me :D Enjoyed every moment. We were lucky to see a 3D preview, and my guess is the opening title sequence was the most dramatic with that addition - big needle poking straight out at you LOL

Janine Ashbless said...

Yeah ... who thought needles in the eye was suitable fare for kiddies? The same idiots who thought The Dark Knight should be a 12A I guess!

It would be the room full of ghosts that I'd find most frightening in Coraline, I think. I had cold sweats for years after watching Fantasia as an 8 yr old. It was all the dinosaurs dying in agony that upset me.

jothemama said...

People are so stupid. I couldn't enjoy Batman from thinking about the littles who'd been brought to it. I wrote our censor and got a very nice, personal and frustrated letter back.

I just don't get it.

Anyway... needles in the eyes? Gah!

dolly said...

I saw this brilliant movie in February in America so I cannot remember if there were any kids crying in the theater. Maybe the Yanks are less sensitive? Regardless of this, people are bringing their tots these days to inappropriate movies and causing great distress to people who paid full price sitting nearby. Too cheap and selfish to pay for a babysitter is my guess.

Erobintica said...

Thanks for the heads-up about this great movie. I just went to see this last night with my daughter (who is 21, so not a kid) - and we both loved it. But there were folks that had brought young kids and there was crying - especially when the mommy and daddy disappear. I'm hoping there are some good extra features when this come out on DVD.