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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ORPHAN (2009) - Jaume Collet-Serra

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. I am actually flummoxed by this one. Orphan, directed by Jaume Collet-Serra seems like it’s meant to be a psychological thriller, but having watched it, the only conclusion I can come to is that it’s the cleverest advertised comedy of recent times. The trailer makes you think it’s a thriller, or even a horror, but it will have you rolling in the aisles! It’s ludicrously bad, and yet I was highly entertained. Oh, the confusion.

Kate and John Coleman seem to have the idyllic family life. They’re not perfect. He nearly had an affair. She’s a recovering alcoholic. But they live in an extremely opulent house with their two kids. They’re all grins and teeth. The perfect all-American family. But there’s something missing. Kate had a miscarriage. But she and John still have love to give. So they decide to adopt. While at Orphan-Con 09, an open house where couples come to shop for kids, they meet Esther, a precocious nine-year-old who seems to be highly intelligent, artistic and well-mannered. They’ve found their orphan. So they adopt the girl and take her home. And slowly, things start to go wrong. As the poster says, ‘there’s something wrong with Esther.’ And the Coleman’s are about to find out just how wrong things can go.

Every year, a few friends and I attend the Horrorthon in Dublin. A three-day festival of horror movies. Some outstanding, some utter tosh. Orphan is the kind of film that would perfectly suit the later part of one of the days. When the audience has sat through four movies and needs a pick me up. The kind of film that everyone is wary of, yet ends up just getting stuck in, cheering at the cheese, and laughing at the ridiculousness of it all. And often times, these can be the best of all movies. They may be rubbish, but they’re damn fun. And there is no doubting, Orphan is rubbish. It’s ludicrous, ridiculous, unbelievable and badly executed. But despite all this, it was just fun.

The script is so far beyond logical that to actually be pissed off with it also defies logic. I’d imagine writer David Johnson had a ball writing it, imagining the looks on the audience faces as they watched the stupidity unfold. Either that, or he’s insane. The performances are pretty bog standard for this kind of film, except for that of Isabelle Fuhrman, who is outstanding. If she is not cast as a Bond villain in the next 007 outing, a prime opportunity has been missed. Her Russian accent and cold malice is perfect for the role. But in all seriousness, she’s by far the highlight of the film, and the only real reason to watch it. Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard are both pretty well-known faces and good actors. So you wonder why they, and Leonardo DiCaprio, who is on-board as producer are doing being associated with the film. Maybe they’re in on the joke.

Like I said, Orphan is rubbish. It’s packed full of clichés, predictable and ludicrous. And yet, I had a great time watching it. So that leaves me in a bit of a quandary. It’s shit, but it’s not as shit as Transformers 2. It’s nowhere near as good as some of the even disappointing better films of the year. Pfsh. Fuck it. Five out of ten.


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