…or at least, I tried to watch it.
CRIMSON PEAK is one of those beautifully costumed, beautifully shot, beautifully cast movies that you see and right away know you’re going to love. Because how could you not?
Allow me to explain why not.
I was slightly trepidatious going in: I’ve never seen Tom Hiddleston be anything but awesome, but Mia Wasikowska has a habit of playing characters that annoy me, in films that are (IMO) either complete rubbish, utter disappointments or plain grotty.
CRIMSON PEAK, unfortunately, was just like Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND (another Mia Wasikowska vehicle)–an utter disappointment. And it managed to be so all in the first half hour, after which I turned it off in frustration.
Disappointment #1: The Characters
*Edith Cushing. Oh my. What can be said about such a self-important little twit? She fancies herself a writer. Cool, yanno. She loves to tell people that her ghost stories are not ghost stories, they are stories with a ghost in them. Because the ghost is a metaphor. She is smug, inconsiderate, likes to belittle people she has never met, and has the flamin’ unmitigated gall to be snide about Austen. Because writing ‘love stories’ is so much beneath her. So obviously I couldn’t love her, but I still gave her a chance. Only then, after protesting repeatedly for the first 20 mins of the movie that she has never been in love and it being shoved in our faces that this special snowflake is too much of an author to be in love–in fact, seems to despise love–what does she do? Of course. She falls in instalove with the rich nobleman. Which only really solidifies my dislike of her, since there’s a perfectly lovely young optician who seems to be very keen on her–which Edith is quite well aware of. I can only deplore her taste in men and think much less of her for preferring charm over decency.
*Sir Thomas Sharpe. Wow. I know Tom Hiddleston is a good actor, so I’m assuming it was the writers who managed to write this character so abominably flat. There isn’t much to say about him except that we only know he’s meant to be charming because we are told he is so. Mostly I can’t help wondering how the heck Edith imagines herself in love with him.
*Lady Lucille Sharpe. Actually the most interesting character in the movie. She’s kinda awesome in a sharp, deadly
sort of a way. Manages to be beautiful not because of her looks but because of they way she carries herself. I almost kept watching the movie just because she was amazing.
*Carter Cushing. Edith’s dad. Oh. My. Goodness. Such a snob! I know it’s meant to be his Dad-Radar™, and that he dislikes Sir Thomas Sharpe on instinct, but the reason he gives for not liking Sir Thomas and refusing to finance his business proposal? Yeah, it’s because he’s a nobleman and has soft hands. He actually discriminates against Sir Thomas because he was born a nobleman. That’s irritating.
Disappointment #2: The Inaccuracies
Okay, so it’s a sort-of Victorian era thing. The costumes are beautiful and for the most part really accurate–except for a few places where Edith has a gorgeous dress with spaghetti straps. Um. No. Bare arms in that period? Yeah, you’re a hooker. It was socially unacceptable to have bare arms. I mean, it was a smashing dress, but it wasn’t right.
Then there’s the time that Edith refuses to go to a dinner engagement, sends her regrets to the hostess previously, sends off her father and the optician in a carriage (while in her nightie and wrapper, no less!) and then turns up at the dinner anyway with Sir Thomas. Never mind that she’d sent her regrets and there would be no place for her at the dinner table–or that her hostess would have to scramble to make a place for her and make special arrangements. It’s extremely unlikely that anyone of Edith’s social status would have been so completely rude–and if she was, it just makes dislike her more. And then she looks so surprised when the hostess is sweetly rude to her. No, the hostess isn’t a rude cow, Edith; you are.
Edith. Again. Seriously. The girl gets up from the dinner table and runs out in tears when she learns that Sir Thomas is leaving (after knowing him a couple days). If–and I really reiterate–IF she had been so rude as to do such a thing, she would not have been followed by Sir Thomas and the flamin’ entirety of the dinner guests so they could watch him tearing apart her book as a pretext on the stairs to the family rooms above. No. They would have politely ignored her rudeness and gone on with their dinner.
Disappointment #3: The complete MEH-ness of the actual story.
I just didn’t care. Disappointments #1 & #2 just made me unwilling to give the mediocrity of the storytelling a real
chance. Normally I’d give it longer, and because of Lucille I almost did, but I just couldn’t stand Edith. Like every other movie I’ve seen with Mia Wasikowska, it seemed to be only a vehicle for her to show how talented, special, sweet, different, special, amazing, special and special her character was. Did I mention how special Edith was? I know Mia Wasikowska is one of Hollywood’s darlings–and she actually is a great actress–but enough already! Stop forcing her quirkyness down my throat. Quirkyness can become boring when that’s all you ever show.
All in all?
Beautiful shooting. Beautiful clothes. Beautiful actors. Rubbish movie. Which is such a shame, because I’ve loved almost everything else I’ve seen of Guillermo Del Toro’s. There are just so many tropes that turn up, and none of them are done with the slightest amount of panache or difference. It’s a trope-soup of meh-ness served up in gorgeous Royal Doulton settings and antique silverware.