Mary Reilly

January 28, 2012 9 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

While being a maid might not be everyone’s idea of the dream profession, Mary Reilly (Julia Roberts) thinks her position is one of the best jobs she could ever ask for. Mary is a pretty, sweet young woman who works as a maid for a well known and well off doctor, Dr. Jekyll (John Malkovich). Since Mary comes from rather humble origins, this position makes her feel a little more civilized and sometimes even wealthy herself. Dr. Jekyll treats Mary very well and in fact, Mary has developed a crush of sorts on the man, which is another perk in her job she seems to favor. But Jekyll has been going through some strange changes of late and Mary is confused as to what is causing them. Soon another man begins to appear around the house, claiming to be Jekyll’s new assistant and going by the name Mr. Hyde (also John Malkovich). Hyde is an unusual and mysterious man and soon enough, Mary becomes drawn to him as well, which leaves her in the middle of a love triangle of sorts. With all this strange activity going on around her, Mary must make a decision on where her desires will take her, otherwise she could end up somewhere she doesn’t want to be.

This movie has taken some serious lumps over the past few years and I have to admit, it deserves some of them. I am not one to complain about long running times or slow pace in a film, but this one takes those ideas a little too far for my tastes. Now this movie clocks in one hundred and eight minutes, which isn’t that long, but it seems like an utter eternity at times. I have seldom had problems with boredom in slower films so my attention span is not to blame, but this movie seems to spend way too much time on nothing interesting. When the film focuses and moves along it can really be effective, but when the gears grind to a halt, it comes to a total stop and turns into somewhat of a bore. The performances and production values are excellent, but can only do so much to keep the audience in tune with the flick. I don’t think this is a bad movie, but it does have some flaws which keep it from moving up to a very good or great film. The costumes look terrific, the set design is marvelous, and all aspects seem to be in place, but the damn pace is just too slow sometimes. I still recommend this film as a rental to those interested and Columbia/Tristar has issued a nice disc, so a purchase is a wise investment for fans.

This film was directed by Stephen Frears, who seems to be gifted at making films about unique and interesting characters. In that regard this film seems like a nice match for his skills, but the manner he chooses to display these characters just falls short in the end. Frears has a solid base in terms of cast and writing, but he opted to unfold the story at too slow of a pace. As I mentioned above when the pace is a little quicker this is a terrific movie, but the ultra slow sequences shatter the whole tone of the film. And while the visuals are very nice, they just don’t pack the punch to keep those slow spots from becoming dull. But Frears still delivers a good movie that has some wonderful atmosphere at times, though the overly slow pace keeps it from advancing to the next level. If you want to see more of Frears’ films I recommend The Grifters, Dangerous Liaisons, The Hi-Lo Country, Hero, and High Fidelity. John Malkovich (Being John Malkovich, In The Line Of Fire) turns in a very good effort here and handles both sides of his character very well. I am surprised with how subdued he is at times, since he usually likes to be more active than this, but it all works well. This isn’t a role Julia Roberts (Pretty Woman, Erin Brockovich) talks about much, but I think it serves as her finest work to date. She downplays her beauty and such in favor of subtle nuances, which works to perfection for her here. The supporting cast is also good and includes Michael Gambon (The Insider, Clean Slate), Linda Bassett (Beautiful People, Indian Summer), George Cole (Gone In Sixty Seconds (1974), Double Nickels), Kathy Staff (The Dresser, Mother’s Day), and Glenn Close (Air Force One, Fatal Attraction).

Video: How does it look?

Mary Reilly is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This isn’t the flick to showcase your visual setup with, but this transfer captures the essence of the film very well. The bland color scheme is evident and I found no smears, while flesh tones appear natural and warm at all times. A few scenes do show brighter, richer colors and those also look clean and free from errors. This is a rather dark film so I was worried about the contrast, but this transfer has no problems in the least in that area. The detail level is always high, though never overexposed and shadows seem deep and complex. The source print used is very clear and shows few nicks and debris, while the compression is free from edge enhancement and other flaws.

Audio: How does it sound?

This isn’t the movie you should pop on to test out your new speakers, but this disc does contain an effective and well mixed Dolby Digital 5.0 audio track. The surrounds are used for subtle, atmospheric audio and while this isn’t a powerful experience, it all comes across in perfect form. You’re not supposed to be overwhelmed by the audio, it’s supposed to sneak up on you to create a mood and it does just that thanks to this mix. I think the musical score meshes well with the overall mood of the picture and this mix creates an open, expansive base for it to shine within. The dialogue is just as impressive though, with a crisp texture and no volume or distortion pattern problems. You can also choose 2.0 surrounds tracks in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. If subtitles are more your game, this disc has English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai. I want to applaud Columbia/Tristar for offering all these language/subtitle choices, which make the disc a little impressive on the whole.

Supplements: What are the extras?

As usual, Columbia has included a couple nice bonus features, even on this regular release. The insert booklet contains some nice production notes, which I am pleased were included. I know some don’t care for these booklets, but I’d rather have them than not. You’ll find theatrical trailers for this film and a couple other Columbia/Tristar releases, as well as some basic talent files. A behind the scenes featurette is also included and while it is brief (6:42), it does have some informative interviews.

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