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Crimson Peak: A Stunningly Beautiful Gothic Love Story [Review]

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Crimson Peak felt like a guilty pleasure for me.  I couldn’t tell if it was good or bad because I’m a sucker for Victorian Era stuff.  I loved this film since I first saw the trailer for it; actually seeing it was just confirmation.  But if you like the trailer, you’ll love the movie.  It is exactly as advertised.

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In the aftermath of a family tragedy, an aspiring author is torn between love for her childhood friend and the temptation of a mysterious outsider. Trying to escape the ghosts of her past, she is swept away to a house that breathes, bleeds…and remembers.

maxresdefaultThe most important thing about this film is how gorgeous it is.  Every shot, every scene, every frame is absolutely sumptuous.  It’s saturated in its own aesthetic; it wallows in it. The special effects were amazing, I loved the ghosts. Film is a visual medium, of course, so a film had better look good, but Crimson Peak was something special.  The amount of detail was breathtaking and the colour choices were both deliberate and effective.  I want to watch this movie again just to see it.

The acting was great.  I was happy to see Jim Beaver (Bobbie from Supernatural), I’ll watch him in anything.  Jessica Chastain and Mia Wasikowska were convincing, as was Charlie Hunnam, but the real star was Tom Hiddleston.  I just loved him.  The thing he does so well is chemistry – his interactions with the other characters were so fraught and genuine.   He even took his shirt off at one point, so full marks there.

crimson1Before I saw this movie, I had heard that Guillermo del Toro wanted his fans to know that this wasn’t intended to be a horror film, it was more of a Gothic Love Story.  Fair enough, I was certainly that.  But it did have an intensity to it all the same.  There were some scenes that made me glad I’m not squeamish.

I wasn’t a fan of the writing so much.  The dialogue was a bit awkward; characters talked like they were out of fiction from that time rather than people from that time.  I might be splitting hairs here, but it just felt… clunky.  The pacing was a bit off as well.   We were never sure what characters were trying to do or needed to do, sometimes it seemed like they just wandered around while this magnificent movie unfolded around them.  There was even one point where I felt I watched the same scene play out twice with the same result.  It is worth noting, though, that this movie well and truly passes the Bechdel Test.  Much of the plot revolves around the interactions of the two female leads.

Screen-Shot-2015-05-13-at-10.24.32-AM-620x400Is Crimson Peak Movie Chinese Food?  No.  I am definitely going to watch this movie again.  I mean it doesn’t make any bold philosophical statements or meaningful plot twists, it’s not ‘about anything other than itself.  You could say it explores beauty and decay, what’s natural verses unnatural, and you wouldn’t be wrong.  But the joy of this film is not its story, it’s its settings and characters.  It is well worth watching at least once.

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