The International Writers Magazine
: Film

The Brothers Grimm (2005)
Dir Terry Gilliam
Kenneth Robinson

ake one spoon of clichés, two spoons of visual inadequacy and a dash of stilted acting and what do you have? -The Brothers Grimm movie

The run up to this movie was indeed suspenseful and promising but its outcome, to put it nicely was anticlimactic. Any brain dead imbecile given a script which involves resurrecting the famous fairy tales in an exciting and contemporary way could easily see that they were sitting on a sure fire gold mine. The formula was there but the minds to concoct it were sadly absent.

Director Terry Gilliam, known for his contributions to the Monty Python productions took the helm of this ambitious project. Set in the 18th century the film tells the story of Jacob Grimm (Heath Ledger) and William Grimm (Matt Damon) who are, historically famous for the gathering and compiling of many of today’s well known fairy tales and folk lores. For some reason, which evades me, the plot depicts the famous brothers as con artists who travel around the country in search of gullible countrymen to trick into parting with their hard earned cash. They achieve this by setting up an abundance of hoaxes involving animated witches and fairy tale creatures which they can come in and rid the people of...for a reasonable fee that is. Not only is this historically inaccurate but the movies attempt to fabalize the tale by having the brothers eventually encounter the actual things which they were under the pretence were purely imaginary is lost by the sheer fragmentary jumble of incomprehensible and isolated scenes.

The film commences with a scene involving magic beans where Perter Ratimee plays (very poorly I might add) the young William Grimm; then with no warning there’s an abrupt scene transition which takes us into the lives of the brothers Grimm as adults. There would be no problem with this advance in time if firstly, the transition was not so implicit that ten minutes is spent establishing the link between the children pictured at the beginning and the adults appearing seconds after and secondly that the time shift was blatantly an excuse to avoid explaining the significance of the opening action.

The film then manages to peak with an almost frightening scene involving a witch who swoops down from the rafters of an old barn. After this initial thrill the film makers bring down the tension to a level equal of that of a live action paint drying movie filmed in black and white.

I haven’t quite finished tearing this movie apart; there’s still the matter of acting, especially that of the lead roles. Matt Damon whose range of acting abilities manifested themselves best in the Bourne Supremacy fails to authenticate his character this time round. Whether this is due to his inability to master the speech of the period or just a case of pure indolence and a general lack of motivation on the part of this film, he just fails to establish a believable protagonist. Luckily his co-star Heath Ledger playing his brother can manage a few more of the human emotions that distinguish us from those of the animal kingdom, but still their lingers a vague sense that neither of the actors were that bothered about the outcome of this film.
Anna Rust playing the sister Grimm completely butchers her role by attributing a yorkshire English accent to a character born and bred in Germany. As well as verbal mutilation we also get quite literally visual defacement with the jaw droopingly gorgeous actress Monica Bellucci (Matrix), having to play the physically repulsive mirror queen who is insistent on consuming the blood of children…nice.

So if an abundance of clichés, poor visual effects, stilted acting, confusing plot, historical inaccuracy, general contextual isolation and gore for gores sake is not enough to put you off than by all means rent the DVD and enjoy this film, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

© Kenneth Robinson Dec 2005

Ken is a Creative Writing student at the University of Portsmouth

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