BROTHERS GRIMM, THE
Will (Matt Damon) and his brother Jacob (Heath Ledger) are the famous Brothers Grimm, who make a living ridding the countryside of monsters and demons. It is the early 19th century in French occupied Germany, and General Delatombe (Jonathan Pryce) orders their arrest as con artists. Meanwhile, eleven young girls have disappeared and the brothers ride into the woods to try to find them. The local woodcutter's daughter Angelika (Lenah Headley) shows them the way, but they become trapped in a magical forest. Fairy tale characters pop up everywhere, including the beauty-obsessed Queen (Monica Bellucci), who has been asleep for 500 years.
Review by Louise Keller:
Once upon a time in 1796, there are two brothers. Jacob (Heath Ledger) is a dreamer, who as a child sells the family cow for a handful of magic beans, while his brother Will (Matt Damon) is the practical one, preferring security of a pouch filled of money and a girl on each arm. Director Terry Gilliam has combined the mystical, fantasy world of sibling scribes the Brothers Grimm, thrusting them headlong into a bevy of their own fairy tales. The result is darkly amusing, often entertaining and overwhelmingly bizarre. Ultimately, the film gets bogged down in its own adventurous aspirations, although it looks a treat with splendid production design and fantastic effects.
Jacob and Will are swallowed up as if by a dream into a world where Little Red Riding Hood, the Gingerbread Man and Rapunzel roam, and frogs and princesses are waiting to be kissed. There is an enchanted forest with walking trees, a deserted castle tower, flying wolves, bats and creepy crawly creatures. Damon fares less successfully than Ledger: his accent slips and slides precariously.
Damon and Ledger enthusiastically embrace the brothers, yet they are almost caricatures - their working class English accents grating heavily in French-occupied Germany. Jonathan Pryce, as General Delatombe, revels in his verrie Frrrensch accent, while Peter Stormare's Cavaldi, looks as though he has stepped straight out of a farce. Highlight, both visually and emotionally, involves Monica Bellucci as the wicked beauty-obsessed queen, who has been locked away in her tower for 500 years and is waiting for the spell to be broken. In order to regain her beauty, she needs to drink the blood from 12 young girls, but unfortunately (for her), her last victim happens to be the lovely Angelika (Lena Headley), whose heart has already been stolen by both Will and Jacob. What a spectacular impact as Jacob shatters the mirror into which the old-hag queen peers and Bellucci's exquisite face in reflection disintegrates into pieces.
The two hours running time allows plenty of opportunity for immersion or for restlessness. Bordering on pretentiousness, the problem is the characters never really suck us in. Too much analysis implies something is amiss. And so the story ends.
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BROTHERS GRIMM, THE (M)
CAST: Matt Damon, Heath Ledger, Monica Belluci, Barbara Lukęsova, Anna Rust, Jeremy Robson, Radim Kalvoda, Martin Hofmann, Harry Gilliam, Petr Ratimec, Jonathon Price, Lenah Headley
PRODUCER: Daniel Bobker, Charles Roven
DIRECTOR: Terry Gilliam
SCRIPT: Ehren Kruger
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Newton Thomas Sigel
EDITOR: Lesley Walker
MUSIC: Dario Marianelli
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Guy Dyas
RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 24, 2005
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment
VIDEO RELEASE: June 8. 20006