Saturday, October 9, 2010

Girl on...Movie? Action: The Countess

The Countess (2009)
Director: Julie Delpy
Writer: Julie Delpy

Aside:  What's this? Doomwench is reviewing a movie?  Well, my dears, things around here have been hectic and as such there has been NO time for reading.  Luckily, I had this little gem sitting in my backlog still.  So, yes, you get a movie review for once.   Enjoy it while it lasts.

Preconceptions: I’ve said it before, and I will say it again – I love period pieces, especially when it comes to movies, although this also applies to books. I’m also always looking for new and exciting vampire-related things and the Countess Bathory qualifies in this category. I was looking forward to a period-piece foreign film about the bloodthirsty, youth-obsessed woman. That said, I wasn’t exactly expecting a master-piece, but even my somewhat low expectations were disappointed.

My Review:

There were so many BAD elements of this movie that I'm not sure which was the worst. The main culprits are the acting, the script and the strange accents everyone felt they needed to use, none of which matched with any others. Since it's probably a combination of those elements, I’ll say it was bad directing. When the director is also the writer I tend to worry about the quality of the movie, and when it turns out said director and writer is also the main actress I begin to think that the movie is all about appeasing someone’s ego.

So, let me talk about the acting in specific. It was pretty terrible – there were a few believable scenes across the board, one that springs to mind is when Erzebet (Delpy) grabs a young girl she recognizes and tells her to run away. I believed the mad despair in that scene, but that was about the only time. Delpy felt wooden for most of the movie, as if she was some sort of Hoffmanian automaton. Her lover and also narrator of the film, Istvan Thurzo (Daniel Brühl who you might recognize from Inglorious Basterds) was pretty terrible and came across as creepy rather than seductive or alluring. He definitely didn’t make me believe that anyone could fall so madly in love with him that she would start murdering virgins. His performance was probably the most disappointing, since I thought he was good in Basterds. I guess it shows what a good director can do. The only other character worth mentioning is Dominic Vizakna (Sebastian Blomberg) who was so unrealistic that he bordered on a parody, which I doubt was the intention. I think he was meant to be a mysterious, dark paramour drawing Erzebet to the dark side, but Blomberg did not have the acting chops to pull that off. His scenes mostly made us laugh.

The accents were inconsistent and generally bad, enough said.

I did like the sets – the castle was appropriately imposing and isolated – and the costumes, at least for the women were nice. I do have to say that at times Iztvan’s jackets looked like they were made from some nice curtain brocade. Erzebet’s dresses were beautiful, though I can’t say how time-appropriate they might have been.  Historically accurate or not, I liked them quite a bit.  As much as the dresses were pretty and the sets appropriately imposing, these things to do not make a solid movie, they are just window-dressing.

The plot was straight-forward, even though it was trying to be filled with political intrigue and personal agonies. I think in the hands of a better director with stronger actors it could have been something really amazing, if not necessarily unique. Given the weakness of the acting and the script, stronger focus on the murdering would have helped keep an audience interested – if you can’t woo them with brilliant performances, entrance them with gore, it works for the Saw movies after all.

Let me add one more positive thing to this review. Some of the shots were quite nice – I remember especially the sequence toward the end when Bathory is being walled into her room and you see her silhouetted against the outside world and the two men who put her there. That was effective. There were a few other similarly picturesque images, but none that stand out as much as that one.

Overall, if you can get it for free and want to spend an hour and a half cringing at the terrible dialogue with the off-kilter accents, go for it. If you’d rather use that hour and a half to do something, anything else, I won’t hold it against you. Definitely don’t spend any money on renting or buying it. You can find something better to spend your pennies on, trust me.

1 comment:

  1. I just spent 10 minutes watching this movie, and couldn't continue. I wanted to see it, because, like you, I enjoyed Bruhl in Basterds and thought I would enjoy seeing him in this too. Unfortunately, I couldn't get past these ridiculous, weird, inconsistent accents and have decided to save my hour and a half. Too bad, as it seems like a GREAT premise for a film.