(Review originally written at 5 September 2010)
This movie was a real mixed bag to me. On the one hand you have an original movie, that taking an unique vintage approach but on the other hand it's something that just doesn't always work out too well.
First of all, I can really appreciated Guy Maddin and his style of unique film-making, that is often a throwback to the classic early movie's era. With this movie Guy Maddin went back to the early days of German expressionism, which in the past had provided us with many great classic and very memorable and beautiful looking movies, mostly during the early 1920's. The movie begins very well and promising enough but overall, is this movie really being German expressionistic? It tries alright but in my opinion it really isn't. It's really lacking the right looks and techniques.
Despite some hard efforts, the movie is really too modern looking. Why not use consistently an one color filtering throughout the entire movie? A look that was very distinctive and recognizable for an 1920's movie but gets only sporadically used in this actual movie. They applied some filters during and after filming but what it mostly does is making the colors look a bit dim. It doesn't really give the movie an old vintage feeling. Besides, if this was supposed to be like a German expressionistic movie, then where are all the great looking sets and backgrounds that made expressionistic movies what they were. Instead this movie is looking like a modern but also cheap movie, that does absolutely nothing with its environments or sets.
One thing that also doesn't seem very consistent with its style and approach is the fact that this is a talkie. The movie would had probably worked out better if it was more being like a silent movie, using title cards and perhaps a narrator, like Maddin for instance did previously with "Tales from the Gimli Hospital", a movie that did a far better job with its silent movie elements and more modern film-making elements and approach.
The story would had probably worked out far better as well that way. Silent movies can simply get away with a lot more. Now instead the movie works out needlessly confusing and weird. Yes, it obviously is already a bit of a weird movie in the first place but all of its dialog and story lines make the movie even more odd to watch. It's just not very compelling and the characters are far too (intentionaly) flat to care about. The story besides gets told in a bit of a messy way and doesn't tell one main story but instead about two different ones. It really doesn't make the movie a very consistent one.
So all in all, I can appreciate Guy Maddin's approach and the weirdness he brings to this movie but it ultimately doesn't always works out too well for this particular movie, which makes it a bit of a mixed bad to watch. Nice try but no cigar.