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Mary Reilly

video review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: Mary Reilly

Starring: Julia Roberts, John Malkovich
Director: Stephen Frears
Rated: R
RunTime: 108 Minutes
Release Date: February 1996
Genres: Drama, Horror


*Also starring: George Cole, Kathy Staff, Michael Gambon, Glenn Close, Michael Sheen, Bronagh Gallagher, Linda Bassett, Henry Goodman



Review by Dragan Antulov
½ star out of 4

In 1894 Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his famous novel about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, not knowing that he has given the name to one of the most popular motives in literature and movies, especially those belonging to horror genres. This story was adapted many times and sometimes from unusual perspectives. One of those unusual adaptations was MARY REILLY, novel by Valerie Martin. The novel described the events of the Stevenson's original from the perspective of Dr. Jekyll's maid. MARY REILLY was in 1996 adapted into movie, directed by Stephen Frears and written by Christopher Hampton.

The plot is set in Victorian era Britain. Mary Reilly (played by Julia Roberts) is young Irish immigrant who gets the job of maid in the household of Dr. Jekyll (played by John Malkovich), respectable physician and scientist. There she takes all sorts of menial jobs but she can't fail to notice some strange things about her new boss. The most peculiar thing is his strange assistant, rude and almost animal- like Mr. Hyde (played by John Malkovich). It soon becomes apparent that both men lust for her and Mary Reilly also must face the fact that she lusts for them too.

MARY REILLY repeated the winning formula of DANGEROUS LIASIONS - script by Christopher Hampton, direction of Stephen Frears and John Malkovich in lead male role. The results were different this time, mostly because Hampton and Frears made the same mistake that had plagued many Hollywood movies - they underestimated viewer's intelligence. Basically, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde look identical, yet the household staff and almost any other character in the film simply can't fathom the obvious. Another problem is in the fact that the audience, unlike characters, knows what is going on, so there is hardly any suspense in the film. By the time expected ending comes, few viewers are going to care; the movie is overlong, unpleasant to look, and too much darkness make many images confusing. Unattractive streets of Victorian Britain are matched with often revolting images of carcasses or poor Julia Roberts having to deal with live eels. Julia Robert's greatest achievement in this film is her command of Irish accent, while her partner, otherwise reliable John Malkovich, can't rescue this film. Instead of feminist take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, MARY REILLY works best as the cautionary tale of filmmakers whose ambitions didn't match their creativity.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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