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OTHERS, THE

SYNOPSIS:
In the final days of World War II, in a remote, rambling home on the Isle of Jersey, Grace (Nicole Kidman) and her two young children Anne (Alakine Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) are anxiously waiting for husband and father, Charles (Christopher Eccleston) to return from the front. To make her life even more difficult, Grace has to protect her children from natural light, as they have a dangerous, photosensitive condition. And to top it off, the servants up and disappear one day, without a word. After the three replacements arrive, led by the elderly, kindly Mrs Mills (Fionnula Flanagan), Anne, the older child, begins to report seeing strangers in the house, and despite Grace’s reluctance to believe her, she slowly realises that there are indeed intruders in her dark and lonely home.

It’s not until well after you’ve seen The Others that the contrivances begin to appear as you mentally reconstruct the film – much like ‘the others’ of the film itself. But by then you will have enjoyed a chilling thriller of the supernatural where the scary bits come from classic cinematic tools, not whizz bang digital effects. Gothic and haunting in every way, The Others succeeds on the strength of its story telling and the exceptional performances from all concerned. Nicole Kidman drives the emotional engine of the film and she credibly and engagingly conveys the complexities of motherly love, fear and courage, grief and loneliness – and yes, wifely love, too. She has a fine script to work with, offering great dynamic range, and evidently a director who pulls all the right strings. The children are just as impressive: in fact, they are so effective they are almost a distraction. The crafty Fionnula Flanagan squeezes every ounce of juice from a plum role, and Alejandro Amenábar’s wholistic vision of the film is well completed by his own score. There are some genuinely scary moments, and despite the film’s premise being a mix of derivative and manipulative elements, The Others works in what it sets out to achieve: it revisits those dark and scary corners of a child’s imagination, where the greatest fear is spawned by the unknown and unseen bogey man.
Andrew L. Urban

Fulfilling all the expectations of the genre, The Others is an exquisitely handsome supernatural thriller with a chilling twist. From concept to execution, Alejandro Amenábar has created a magnificent, haunting film that presents Nicole Kidman in perhaps her best performance to date. Kidman is simply luminous as Grace, the paranoid mother of two: never has her icy aloofness been showcased to such perfection. She is elegant, like her character’s name sake, Grace Kelly, but retains an intensity of frenetic proportions as she rustles her skirts, jangling a clumsy set of keys that open and lock doors with fervour. It's a wonderful role for her and Kidman's performance is superbly contained; her wide eyes flash with terror, horror and anticipation. There's something intensely disturbing about the dark corridors void of natural light and the expectant silences of the old, eerie house. It's as though each room couches its own secluded secrets, while the protective, prison-like existence is ominous in itself. The dark production design, effective use of light, Javier Aguirresarobe's moody cinematography and Amenábar's own music with big orchestral score meld to deliver a memorable and eerie ambiance. Fionnula Flanagan disturbs as the mysterious Mrs Mills, but it is Alakine Mann and James Bentley as the two children, who are truly extraordinary. Selected from an intensive casting process of 5,000 children, Mann and Bentley imbue their characters with such tenacity and conviction; their facial expressions, their demeanour and essence are credible beyond any doubt. How can we forget the taunting expression on Anne's face, or the childish uncertainty and alarm on that of little Nicholas? These performances are in the same class as Haley Joel Osment at his best. I can still hear Grace's piercing scream from the film's first moments: it resonates until the plot reaches its devastating and satisfying conclusion. Gripping and genuinely terrifying, The Others locks us in its grasp and dallies with our emotions as it teeters on the edge of terror. The title, too, provides food for thought.
Louise Keller

Heavy on atmosphere and light on cheap thrills, The Others is one of the best fright films in years. It connects right from the start as talented writer/director Alejandro Amenabar provokes fear from the recesses of our own childhood. All those nightmares about faces at the window/people under the bed/something in the ceiling have been rolled up into a creepy chiller that builds its terror methodically and doesn't let go. Impeccably mounted and
filmed with a probing camera daring us to look into dark corners, The Others has all the physical and psychological elements you could wish for in a spook show. An isolated, rambling mansion with hundreds of rooms and no electricity; a neurotic obsessive lady of the house who insists doors be locked at all times; children for whom exposure to sunlight means certain death and a strange trio of servants who know more than they're saying are the juicy surface components. Bubbling underneath is the emotional breakdown of a woman forced to accept that everything she believes in, including her religious faith, is being destroyed before her eyes. Kidman is perfect for the role - her eyes saying as much as her dialogue as her home and mind collapse around her. Fionulla Flanagan, the great Irish actress whose gifts have graced the stage far more frequently than cinema, is chillingly effective as the housekeeper with a link between the real and the supernatural. I've seen a million thrillers and horrors and I'm very difficult to please but The Others sent an impressive quota of shivers down my spine. It is my great compliment to say The Others looks like it could have been made at any time in the past forty years. It has no concern for the easy special-effects trickery of today and every respect for story, character and the careful arrangement of cinematic apparatus to induce maximum catharsis via anxiety provoking scenarios.
Richard Kuipers

Footnote of links: one of the film’s Executive Producers is Tom Cruise, whose marriage to Nicole Kidman crumbled very publicly since. Cruise also stars in Cameron Crowe’s Vanilla Sky, an adaptation of Alejandro Amenábar’s Open Your Eyes.

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

For his eerie, scary, The Others, Alejandro Amenábar chose Nicole Kidman, “for the undeniable force of her stare”
FEATURE

Brad Green's
SOUNDTRACK REVIEW

OTHERS, THE (M)
(FRANCE/SPAIN/US)

CAST: Nicole Kidman, Alakina Mann, James Bentley, Fionnula Flanagan, Christopher Eccleston, Eric Sykes, Elaine Cassidy

DIRECTOR: Alejandro Amenábar

PRODUCER: Fernando Bovaira, Jose Luis Cuerda, Sunmin Park

SCRIPT: Alejandro Amenábar

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Javier Aguirresarobe

EDITOR: Nacho Ruiz Capillas

MUSIC: Alejandro Amenábar

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Benjamin Fernández

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Buena Vista International

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE DATE: November 8, 2001

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: BVHE

VIDEO RELEASE: May 8, 2002







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