Red Riding Hood
dir Catherine Hardwicke
scr David Leslie Johnson
prd Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Alex Mace, Julie Yorn
with Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie, Lukas Haas, Shauna Kain, Michael Hogan, Adrian Holmes, Cole Heppell
release US 11.Mar.11, UK 15.Apr.11
11/Canada Warner 1h40
Red Riding Hood
Bachelor number one: Irons and Seyfried

oldman burke madsen
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Red Riding Hood Just nutty enough to be entertaining, this fairy tale would have benefitted from a more arch, energetic approach. It feels like a mopey medieval Twilight flashback livened up by the odd bit of overacting.

In a village on the edge of a dark forest, Valerie (Seyfried) lives with her loving parents (Burke and Madsen), who have arranged her marriage to the cute, soulful and wealthy blacksmith Henry (Irons). But Valerie's in love with the swarthy, soulful and poor woodcutter Peter (Fernandez). Valerie's big-eyed grandmother (Christie) offers a listening ear. But the village's strained relationship with a local werewolf flares into violence at the arrival of both a blood-red moon and the fanatical werewolf-hunter Solomon (Oldman). Could the werewolf be one of the villagers?

Does a wolf do his business in the deep, dark woods? Director Hardwick and writer Johnson load the film with so many crimson-red herrings that it could be absolutely anyone, aside from the most obvious suspect of course. There are also several amusing fairy tale references. And as things ramp up into a hysterical War on Werewolfism, Hardwick seems much more interested in heaving bosoms and ripped bodices, as Valerie dithers between her two pouty, supermodel suitors.

Yes, it's utterly ridiculous, not really hanging together by even the loosest sense of internal logic. And all of the romance is so achingly yearning that we almost lose the will to live in between the frenetic action sequences and iffy special effects. So it's a good thing that we have Oldman on hand to chomp mercilessly on the scenery, twirling and shouting and spluttering, as if all of the cast members' energy was being channelled through him alone.

That said, Seyfried gives the film a solid centre, making up for the over-emoting vacuum of Fernandez and Irons. Hardwick designs the film to over-the-top perfection, with fire-glowing cinematography, sumptuously colour-coded costumes and high-end hair and makeup that defy the laws of nature. It's not subtle or clever, and by the end it's so dim-witted that we feel like we've been banging our heads against a tree for 100 minutes. It's also oddly enjoyable for all the wrong reasons.

cert 15 themes, strong violence 7.Apr.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall