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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. 

Review by Louise Keller:
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.

The 2-disc DVD set is also a handsome presentation. The featurette introduces us to producer Paula Wagner, director Alejandro Amenabar, Fionnula Flanagan, Nicole Kidman, and there’s even a brief comment from executive producer Tom Cruise, who describes Kidman’s performance as ‘flawless’. Wagner talks about Kidman’s psychological journey, while Amenábar tells how the first thing that impressed him about Kidman were her “incredible eyes”. It’s a routine behind-the-scenes feature, but the Visual Effects featurette is far more interesting, with split screens that merge into one, visually describing the motion control/digital effects. 

The Xerodemra Pigmentosum: What is it? feature explains the nature of the light-sensitive disease, and a family whose young daughter is suffering from XP tells its experience. The piece de resistence is a fascinating ‘fly-on-the-wall’ documentary that takes a close and intimate look at director Alejandro Amenábar at work on the set. It’s more than just another series of ‘behind-the-scenes’ sequences, but lengthy glimpses of the man on the set, discussing the action with his stars, and showing his very easy rapport and relaxed style. We really feel as though we are there.

Published November 7, 2002

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

DIRECTOR: Alejandro Amenábar

RUNNING TIME: 100 minutes

PRESENTATION: Widescreen (disc one) 1:85:1; Ratio Varies (disc two); 16 : 9 transfer; Dual-layered format

SPECIAL FEATURES: Disc One: Feature Only Disc Two: A look inside – The Others Featurette; Visual Effects Piece; Xeroderma Pigmentosum: What is it? The story of a family dealing with the disease; An intimate look at director Alejandro Amenabar; The Others Still Gallery; Theatrical Trailer;


DVD RELEASE: September 30, 2002

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