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Mary Reilly (1996)

Mary Reilly poster.jpg

Valerie Martin’s novel offers a fresh perspective on the Jekyll & Hyde story – that of the Irish maid who becomes involved in the battle of the ego and id. This is one of a series of odd films in Stephen Frears’ career but it improves as it goes on after a decidedly iffy beginning, not helped by the shooting style or production design which is as odd as Ms Roberts’ eyebrow colour. There is no transformation as in the 30s classic and Christopher Hampton’s adaptation gives us a backstory of Mary’s abuse to aid her sympathy with the good/bad doctor. He is played by John Malkovich who of course had worked with the director and writer on Dangerous Liaisons. There is an array of Oirish accents on display and a chance to observe Glenn Close (another Dangerous Liaisons alumnus) as a madam rehearsing for Cruella De Vil. Michael Sheen of the permanently surprised visage is a houseman. This was meant for Tim Burton but he chose to do Ed Wood instead. Strange – but ultimately in a good way and Roberts is always worth watching.

About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

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