Saturday, October 25, 2008


I saw several positive reviews for Tideland, some from writers who I hold in high regard. Although this movie sounded quirky in a not-so-positive way, I figured I would give it a go. In exchange for my curiosity and willingness to "stick it out" in hopes of improvement, I received nothing. Okay, maybe some of the cinematography was interesting and Jeff Bridges as a junkie was sort of interesting to watch. But for the most part, this film was a complete waste of two hours.

Tideland is a weird tale, sort of a fractured fairy tale, that starts with a young girl (Jeliza-Rose played by Jodelle Ferland) cooking heroine up for her junkie father Noah (Jeff Bridges). Shortly thereafter, her mother Queen Gunhilda (Jennifer Tilly) dies in her sleep. Jeliza-Rose does not get much attention from her addict parents and has developed an extensive dialogue with her doll-head companions. Much of the movie explores her internal conversations with her pretend friends. After traveling to her deceased grandmother's house on the plains, her father OD's on heroine, slowly decaying over a period of days. Jeliza befriends an odd family on a nearby farm, which adds a whole new dimension to the level of strange that this movie seeks to reach. It is hard to tell reality from fantasy in this film, which explores a wide range of taboo subjects. In fact, it seemed at times that this film was meant to shock and provoke dialogue with very little substance used as a vehicle to deliver it.

The writing in this film was tedious. There was a funny scene on the bus, where Noah's bodily functions serve as comic relief. However, it's pretty bad when the only comedy you can achieve it cheap potty humor. This was a very dark film that explored some touchy subjects in a way that was painful to watch. It was literally like watching a train wreck. The writers failed to touch the audience with the characters which were all entirely out of touch with anything most people can relate to. Even Jeliza-Rose, who was required to carry this film, lacks the depth to create much of a bond with the audience. The lack of character development, reality and dialogue was tedious. Jeliza-Rose has conversations with her pretend friends, using a falsetto voice when in character...making it very difficult to understand what she is saying. Using a child in a strange character to carry a film was a disastrous mistake.

The casting wasn't bad, but the best part of the cast didn't last long enough to do anything. Unless you count Jeff Bridges slowly decaying and watching his tongue eventually turn black counts as acting. Bridges was actually pretty good, the only bright spot, during his rather short existence in this film. Jennifer Tilly didn't last past the first ten minutes. Her character really didn't have time to get to know the audience, never mind connect. Ferland was cute and likeable, but her character limited her ability to win the audience over by force of her personality or innocence. With the voices in her head, she was really hard to watch at times. Brendan Fletcher was exceptional as an epileptic (Dickens) who had part of his brain removed. His performance and character was weird but believable...maybe just a hint overdone. His relationship with Jaliza-Rose is eerie. Janet McTeer plays Dickens sister Dell. She was just plain weird. I didn't like her in the least bit in this movie. The cast was mostly bad. Probably because of the writing...but they were all hard to watch at times.

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