Friday, March 4, 2011

Fearsome Fairy Tale

The director of ‘Twilight’ sends forth Amanda Seyfried in a darkly romantic retelling of the tale of ‘Red Riding Hood’

IF YOU wanted to create the perfect actress to play the title role in “Red Riding Hood,” you could not do better than Amanda Seyfried. With her alabaster skin, big bright eyes and full lips, Seyfried possesses such a stark elemental beauty that she steals almost every scene merely by standing still especially against the movie’s bleak, spare setting.

Hardwicke keeps everyone bustling about early in the movie as “Red Riding Hood” runs forward with a grim, purposeful briskness, perhaps too briskly as the first half goes by in a thicket of exposition. Once “Red Riding Hood” slows down a bit, Hardwicke gets to play with the movie’s darker motivations and more hallucinatory visuals, at times injecting a lush imagery reminiscent of another scary tale, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula.” The mystery behind the Wolf’s true identity is the top domino in a row of secrets that tumble one after another deep in the movie’s second half—a lot of secrets. The movie’s subtle ending is a fitting conclusion to the knowing reinvention Hardwicke is working on. Clearly, Hardwicke’s goal is to make the classic fairy tale both fearsome and accessible to modern audience, something that can be gleaned from the movie’s noticeably contemporary dialogue and the atmospheric score from Brian Reitzell.

Due to Hardwicke’s resume, there will be some obvious comparisons to “Twilight,” but “Red Riding Hood” is a decidedly different cinematic animal from Catherine Hardwicke, a somber and lavishly visual retelling of a folk tale that combines old-fashioned horror with a thoroughly modern love story burning in its fanged, fearsome heart.

Check out the entire review here

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