Monday, August 14, 2006

TIDELAND - the best Gilliam since BRAZIL

TIDELAND is an outstanding new movie from director Terry Gilliam. It tells the tale of a young girl called Jeliza-Rose. A child of rare wit and imagination, Jeliza-Rose is the daughter of heroin addicts. When her mother dies, her father takes her to her grandmother's derelict house in the middle of the countryside. She prepares her father's injections, scrapes peanut-butter from a near-empty jar, and must amuse herself as best she can.

TIDELAND is not a pleasant ride. But, unlike most cinema, it delivers something new, challenging and genuinely disturbing. Not least when Jeliza imagines that she has a boyfriend in a dim-witted young man called Dickens. Or when, in the final ten minutes, you feel the urge to laugh darkly at a Pyscho-esque taxidermy moment. It is the sort of film where you desperately search for a toe-hold, so strange and plentiful are the disturbing and often random occurences. Think Alice in Wonderland re-imagined by Hunter S Thompson by way of the
Polish Brothers and then add that pure undiluted Gilliam visual style. Even the ending is not so much a resolution as a chance to breathe. The overwhelming tone of this film was, for me, sadness for this amazing but lonely little girl who is so desperate for interaction that she will make dolls and ghoulish strangers her best friends.

Kudos must go to Terry Gilliam for adapting the cult novel by Mitch Cullin so faithfully and for coaxing a quite breath-taking performance from Jodelle Ferland, who plays the young girl. This is perhaps the second film this year, after
TONY TAKITANI, to really stay with me long after the screening. And while both have very different stories and styles they are both centred on loneliness, abandonment, and the desperate need to connect.

To my mind, TIDELAND is the best and "most" Gilliam movie since BRAZIL. I strongly urge you to check it out if you are in the mood for something different.

TIDELAND showed at Toronto back in 2005 and has since been on release in Russia, the Netherlands, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Poland, Japan and the Czech Republic. It is currently on release in the UK, Ireland and Iceland and rolls into Taiwan later this month. It opens in Argentina, Canada, Rumania, New York and Finland in October 2006.

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