I have never heard of this book before and I was rather hesitant to watch this due to the fact that it was left basically unnoticed and pushed to the side in the midst of all the big budget trash in the theaters. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of this story. Alexis Bledel gives a really good performance as the main character Winnie and really helps drives this movie. She’s a really gifted actress and is able to pull off the early century lingo without fault of flaw. She reminds me of a young Brooke Shields giving both hard gritted strength and warm vulnerability all at the same time. I really became interested in her character and really wanted to know how she would end up by the end of the movie.
Scott Bairstow and she have great chemistry together and are very reminiscent of Romeo and Juliet in certain scenes. He really gives the conflicted tortured persona who’s forced to live life and watch people come and go as he stands still. There are a lot of good actors on display in this film, the problem is that they’re all underused. I really loved the story and the whole concept, but I would have loved to see more of the feature characters. Veteran actor William Hurt has basically no purpose in the story except stand around and give lectures. He was the patriarch of this mysterious family yet we never truly learn a lot about him and the story doesn’t give us room to care. He gives a pretty mild role and is never able to stretch his skills to its fullest extent. Also we get the sense somewhere along the line that Amy Irving is a domineering mother and that Victor Garber is the loving father, but they’re only featured for twenty minutes combined within the whole film, so it was nearly impossible to make sense of their character’s personalities. They’re more like scenery and a backdrop like the setting, only there to react and serve as obstacles to the romance.
Also Jonathan Jackson who does what he can with his scarce material is never emphasized upon nor is his conflicted and depressing personality about the death of his beloved family. The narration basically serves no true purpose in movie the story along and it seems more like filler where the director went faulty. Was there any reason why Elisabeth Shue did the thankless job of narrating? Sissy Spacek gives a truly powerful performance as Mae Tucker, the leader of the household who manages to bond with Winnie and show some true desperation within her character. We can always get the feeling of dread and misery within her eyes and personality, even when she spins the music box which she helps to soothe her in stressful times. She’s a great actress and really packs a powerful performance. The story is very sophisticated and brings about many philosophical and religious questions before the audience. If you had the chance to be immortal would you? Would you choose to live life while you can and die, or would you choose to stay alive forever and never fully experience what life has to offer and simply stand still in one phase for all eternity? I was rather engrossed in the questions given to the audience all the while watching these two young people from completely opposite ends of the world falling love.
What’s good is that the romance plot between Bairstow and Bledel is never shoved down the audiences throats nor does it ever get dull and redundant. The questions in the aforementioned sentences are always given to the audience as Winnie Foster is forced to decide whether she would stay mortal and live life, or become immortal and live it with her true love. Ben Kingsley gives a both intimidating and grim performance as “The Man in the yellow suit” who symbolizes the depletion of the philosophical idea presented within the story and seeks the family and the fountain of youth for pure greed. He always gives a great performance, especially as a villain as shown in “Sexy Beast”. He stands as simply a presence among the characters rather than a true character and never gives his name. The climax to the film is truly powerful and gives the audience a definite decision made by Winnie, but the question still remains in the air for everyone to decide among themselves. It’s a shame this movie was basically pushed aside at the box-office; despite many reservations with the plot, this is a really good and thought provoking film on life and true romance.