Stonehearst Asylum

Film, Thrillers
2 out of 5 stars
Stonehearst Asylum

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

It’s ‘Shutter Island’ in the Scottish Highlands with this initially intriguing, ultimately depressing, but always immaculately played Victorian-era madhouse drama loosely based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe.

When young Dr Newgate (Jim Sturgess) arrives at the remote mental institution of Stonehearst, he expects to find dank cells, forced medication, and therapies that would shame the Spanish Inquisition. Instead the place seems strangely calm: the patients are happy and relaxed, their whims and delusions indulged by the kindly director Lamb (Ben Kingsley). So why is the warden Finn (David Thewlis) behaving so aggressively? Why does Newgate seem so fixated on aristocratic inmate Eliza (Kate Beckinsale)? And most pressingly, why is Michael Caine locked up in the cellar?

The intentions underpinning ‘Stonehearst Asylum’ are nothing but noble, setting up a potentially fascinating conversation around different methods of treating madness. Director Brad Anderson knows the territory – his debut, ‘Session 9’, was a masterful asylum-set  horror flick. And the cast are impeccable, even if Kingsley is just rebooting his shifty-psychiatrist role from the aforementioned Scorsese shocker.

So it’s a shame when matters begin to descend into cheap Gothic gotchas and pantomime eye-rolling. For a film to encourage understanding and empathy for its mentally ill characters, only to have them revealed as the usual bunch of shrieking, clothes-rending, central casting nutters, isn’t just misjudged. It’s downright offensive.

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Details

Release details

Release date:
Friday April 24 2015
Duration:
112 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Brad Anderson
Screenwriter:
Joe Gangemi
Cast:
Kate Beckinsale
Jim Sturgess
David Thewlis