May 23, 2007

Cannes. The Orphanage.

The Orphanage "[O]nce in a while, a film that's not on our liturgical calendar gains a must-see reputation," write Richard and Mary Corliss for Time. "At press luncheons or in the corridors by the critics' mail boxes, we hear of a picture that has seized some early viewers' imaginations and becomes a Word of Mouth hit.... It's as if we learned that a cup of café au lait at some backwater dive was the Holy Grail. Gotta have a sip from that. That's the urgent odor that this year attached itself to The Orphanage [El Orfanato; site; MySpace], a Spanish thriller written by Sergio G Sanchez, directed by first-timer Juan Antonio Bayona and shown in the little-attended Critics' Week section.... The happy news is twofold: The Orphanage quite lives up to its billing; and it's been bought for US release by Picturehouse, the company that distributed Pan's Labyrinth."

Jeffrey Wells has seen it "twice, which is perhaps an irresponsible thing given all the movies and events to be absorbed at the Cannes Film Festival. But it's such a deliciously haunting and rousingly effective work that I couldn't resist."

"An unsettling Spanish synthesis of The Innocents, The Others and every other cinematic chiller about a woman's psychic fixation with some not-so-innocent children, this macabre tale of maternal madness should be able to parlay critical acclaim and the imprimatur of producer Guillermo del Toro into robust arthouse returns, with otherworldly ancillary to follow," predicts Variety's Justin Chang.

"While decidedly safer and sweeter than Del Toro's work, El Orfanato is still an effective and beautiful look at the haunted home that once was an orphanage, and the spirits of troubled children still wrecking havoc on a small family," writes Matt Dentler. "It's not new territory, but imaginative in some sublime ways."

Update, 5/30: "At first, The Orphanage is a bit clunky and conventional, with an over-large helping of the usual inexplicable slamming of doors and quick glimpses of ghostly personages that aren't supposed to be there, along with the de rigueur rain, thunder, and heavy, foreboding music," writes Peter Brunette for Screen Daily. "All of this foreplay, as it were, lasts maybe a little bit longer than it does in standard genre fare, and than it should - but the wait is worth it."


Cannes @ 60. Index.




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Posted by dwhudson at May 23, 2007 7:53 AM