Duh!! Stick to Braveheart, Mel!
, 29 Jan 2011
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
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I very much enjoyed reading the book which is why I watched this film. But like many films based on good books, I found it really disappointing. For a start, it missed out SO MUCH of the book that was relevant to the plot, for example the way his workmates treated him at the beginning was cut out (their teasing and jokes they played on him which was the trigger for Mary's empathy towards him as she 'rescued' him and mopped him up); the bit where Tim's father explains the facts of life to him in preparation for his marriage, the bit where Tim injures himself with a knife (which showed how mentally young he really is as he panicked and screamed), Tim's suggestions to Mary to paint her house more exciting colours, as a child would; Mary's educating of Tim which was barely touched on (the book describes how his vocabulary widens and his understanding deepens), Mary giving Tim a bath (a very touching scene in the book which would have highlighted his innocence), his words to her about being comforted, his discovery of the concept and word for 'love' and how snuggling in bed with her was 'better than cuddling my teddy' which would have injected some childlike characterisation. In short, virtually ALL the bits which gave the childlike character of Tim real credibility were completely left out! Because of these omissions and more, the film lacked a lot of the depth of the book. I think Mel G was the wrong actor for the part of Tim in all but looks. Yes, he's handsome. But he's rubbish at playing a 'retarded' youngster. His portrayal was wooden, shallow, there was very little emotional depth, (even after his beloved parents died he showed virtually no emotion although I accept that a child may have just acted confused); he didn't seem to have done any research on special needs at all (comparing very badly with, say, Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man) or even how to act as a child would have done. Have you never been around kids, Mel? His speech was fast and fluent, more like an able youngster than a retarded adult (I imagined Tim's would have been slow and a bit more halting or at least childish) and his few depictions of a carefree frolic as he galloped around lacked true childish innocence because of his adult-male delivery. It all rather ruined the plotline. I found Piper Laurie very good as Mary however, all prim and proper and buttoned up, with a heart of gold beneath the slicked back hairdo and business suit, and the way she relaxed over time as Tim melted her heart was very well played. Tim's parents too were spot-on, exactly as the book describes, homely and down to earth, so they were perfectly cast. Dawn his sister I found rather wooden tho, there was no real depth to her character at all, and her husband Mick's personality was nonexistent apart from a couple of eyebrow twitches. All in all, I'd say a modern remake would be welcome. Back to the drawing board guys!
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