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[CRITICAL] The ORPHANAGE (2007)

We devote a tiny retrospective, with Juan Antonio Bayona on the occasion of the release of his next film, a Few minutes after midnight on January 4, 2017.

On the menu: the critics of the films made by the author: The orphanage (2007), The Impossible (2012), and finally a Few minutes after midnight. Then, in the margin of the chronic film, the literary book of Patrick Ness: a Few minutes after midnight, as well as an extrapolation of the promises of its film adaptation by Juan Antonio Bayona.

A great hut, a mother and her son, a missing child, an investigation, ghost… Welcome to The ORPHANAGE.

Before addressing specifically the film, we find already in The ORPHANAGE, this notable difference between the horror of so-called “Spanish” and “american”, the first based more on empathy and the quality of a story, that on the pure effects of staging. And even when the staging NEEDS to take over the rest, there is this question of the timing which changes everything”, much more patient, atmospheric, never putassier often effective. Spread the word : the horror of the Spanish, at least if one remains at its greatest representatives, is unique and powerful. And perhaps even precisely because it is much more than the “simple” horror.

The ORPHANAGE is, therefore, stack the hair in the same way formal, with its moments of tension and suspense, prepared with care by a realization of the own, licked and effective ; it is adorned with more than a good storyline, devious and without concession, to make the film memorable – though memorable doesn’t mean there’s original. There are also in the feature-length film, a nice attention to the female character, examining with great sensitivity to the way in which expresses her maternal instincts, her determination, or even more simply, his love for his son. And then, by its decoration and its use in the quasi-total (inherent in the script), a certain variety of situations of anxiety and atmosphere, is the rendezvous, reinforcing this impression of the movie comprehensive and successful at all levels.

“Everything seems to be perfect and successful in The Orphanage, yet something is amiss… like… a lack of soul, of personality ? “

Yet, something is wrong. As a lack of soul, of personality.

And a simple return to the generic we watch to remember where is the problem : the phrase “produced by Guillermo Del Toro”.

Because yes : The ORPHANAGE borrows from the (new) master of the horror of the Spanish and, in particular, to The spine of the Devil (2001), too many elements. His staging is very particular of the phantom as a positive entity, but ultra-creepy, and the importance of it in the narrative as well as in the resolution of the story. So far in The ORPHANAGE, this phantom, this item is fantastic, is never used to breathe poetry macabre but used to vent a historical reality (franco specifically) without a concession, as in Del Toro. There is, so to speak, not of the antagonist in the film, Bayona, at least other than the script itself, and its ability to literally enclose his characters in the said place of the same name.

The representation of the ghost is not the only off-note of The ORPHANAGE – it is his portrait of the feminine, and by extension the relation to parenting, children, lack, the couple. If these aspects remain touching and so successful in The ORPHANAGE, they remember less of other works such as The Others (Amenabar, 2001), or The cult with no name (Balaguero, 1999) and their treatment of these same topics within a context that is more fleshed out, palpable, cruel, and interactive.

The one in the other, impossible not to say that the absence of a real context in The ORPHANAGE, it impacts the emotional range of the reason being of the fantastic, of the issues of the protagonist, as well as the meaning of this famous melancholy to the final.

We’re back to the generic where the we are surprised to instead imagine the statement : “produced by Guillermo del Toro, Jaume Balaguero and Alejandro Amenabar”… As Juan Antonio Bayona draws on the personality of its entertainment in their obsessions of the author, and never keep, nor the severity, nor the wealth, nor most importantly the consistency. Not that this is really lacking at The ORPHANAGE, an excellent horror movie if it is… But just notice us that it is only an illusion and inconsistency in relation to the three masterpieces mentioned above. We will thus lead to the following achievements of a filmmaker still a “doer” rather than “author”, to find, what it lacks in depth to his first movie… A particular attention on the trails, in the fantastic allegorical, to the political contexts, or emotional states, and overall consistency.

Georgeslechameau

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