Monday, November 22, 2010

Potter VII, Part 1

I actually enjoyed this movie more than I expected to. Whatever the commerical advantages, artistically speaking it was probably a good idea to break the overstuffed final book of the series into two movies. Compared with the other installments, rather little actually happens in this film, plot-wise. One horcrux is located, obtained, and destroyed, but aside from that the movie is essentially a sequence of hair's-breadth escapes. These are handled effectively. The mood is dark throughout, in keeping with the trajectory in the novels.

The acting limitations of the principals remain a problem. The child leads of the Potter movies, like their fictional counterparts in the books, find themselves thrust into adult roles by circumstances beyond their control. Alas, in fiction such a transformation can be pulled off with a stroke of the author's pen or computer mouse; not so easy for real-life child actors. But perhaps this liability is also an asset. We need never be distracted by the star power of the wooden Mr. Radcliffe or his sidekicks. And there are signs of growth, even for Mr. Radcliffe. The film's pivotal scene-- Harry's little dance with Hermione, alone together against the world in their flimsy tent-- is tender and revealing of character.

Some critics have griped that we don't see enough of the series' real actors in Potter VII: Rickman, Fiennes, etc. Helena Bonham Carter is more in evidence, and seems to have been born to this kind of role (Cf. Sweeney Todd), although her lovely and expressive face is usually obscured by that unkempt mop of witch-ly locks. To the extent that these movies work, it is not because of the stars, or the exciting scenes of stuff blowing up, but in spite of them; we have to be convinced that something much more important than a thrill is at stake here. That was the triumph of the books, and the movies come closest when they approach that seriousness of purpose, and that sense of wonder or dread. I for one look forward to seeing the final chapter... if not to the obligatory epilogue, which was something of a blemish on J.K. Rowling's remarkable achievement.

1 comment:

  1. BillyBob:

    Never thought I would see you write this phrase: "is tender and revealing of character."

    And for the record, although Denzel does in fact eat a cat, he does a lot more than eat the cat, and in any case when Denzel eats the cat you know no other sensible actor will ever try cat-eating again.

    Happy New Year.