Mary Reilly

Film

Horror films

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Time Out says

Coppola's Dracula, Branagh's Frankenstein, Jordan's Vampire, and now Frears' Jekyll and Hyde. Will these horrors never cease? A more modest failure than the others, this lacks the vaulting artistic hubris to compensate for its over-produced, over-determined inertia. The film, adapted by Christopher Hampton from a novel by Valerie Martin, approaches Stevenson's characters from a new angle: the point of view of a scullery maid in Dr Jekyll's household. Such nifty cultural repackaging sounds intriguing, but comes a cropper as soon as it's apparent that Mary (Roberts) is missing all the action: she cleans up after the murders, watches while Jekyll goes into his lab and Hyde comes out, flirts timidly with both - and that's just the highlights. It's not all bad: cinematographer Philippe Rousselot enshrouds everything in a fine Victorian fog, and George Fenton contributes an atmospheric score, but Frears never seems to get a fix on the material. If her accent is all over the place, it's hardly Roberts' fault that her pale, gaunt Mary seems to have been sampling the doctor's concoctions. Columbia have grafted on a panicky blood-and-thunder climax, with a belated transformation scene, but the film remains obstinately decorous, about as scary as an episode of Upstairs, Downstairs.
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Release details

UK release:

1996

Duration:

109 mins

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