Thursday, 31 December 2009

I Have A Sadness Shield

I can't be the only one who read several reviews of Where The Wild Things Are saying that it wasn't so much a film for children as a film about childhood. Now, the people who wrote these reviews were not talking out of their arses, they were in fact going on the evidence of their own eyes, ears and other sensory apparatus. So I would be really interested to know what some of the very small children who saw it last night made of it. Apart from the baby sitting behind us, whose review consisted of crying for about twenty minutes.

Apparently director Spike Jonze said he wanted to capture the essence of being 9, for which he used handheld camera work, a Karen O soundtrack, and a lead actor who is 12. The end result is more of a poetic indie representation of what being 9 was like than the experience of anyone who has recently spoken to a 9 year old. I would say, though, that the changing your mind all the time, lacking in self awareness, emotional outburst stuff that young kids do was very well realised.

I have read a couple of comments from people who saw the film saying it was stagnant and dull. Whilst things happen in fits and starts and action-wise it's no Die Hard 4, it's based on a picture book of about three sentences, so really what do you expect? You could argue that there wasn't enough to make a full length movie I suppose, but that would be missing the point. The story is a character study, following Max's gradual realisation that different aspects of his personality are reflected by the monsters, and that his outbursts affect other people just like theirs affect him. Part of the fun of watching is trying to work out precisely what character trait each Wild Thing represents - some are more obvious than others.

Overall this is a beautiful film, definitely worth a watch. But in all likelihood you will be in a cinema with some young persons who will ask searching questions - by which I mean banal questions - all the way through, so if you can't cope with that then maybe wait for the DVD. FYI, it'll be things like, "he doesn't like it there does he?" and "when is he going to get home?" Hey, they're kids, they don't gotta be pithy in reality. Just in the imagination of nostalgic grown ups.

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