The Raven – Movie Review
Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on May 18, 2012 | No Comments
PRODUCER – Marc D. Evans, Trevor Macy, Aaron Ryder, Richard Sharkey (co-producer)
DIRECTOR – James McTeigue
WRITER – Ben Livingston (screenplay), Hannah Shakespeare (screenplay)
CAST – John Cusack, Alice Eve and Luke Evans
MUSIC – Lucas Vidal
Edgar Allen Poe, 19th century poet and writer was a man fascinated with dark themes and invested them with an alluring romanticism. The film takes its title from ‘The Raven’, one of Poe’s most popular poems consumed with emotions of loss, longing and distress. But it is a rather misleading title because it becomes a mere reference and is not a reference point. The film is a murder mystery, taken from Poe’s works and revolves around the writer’s persona as the Baltimore police seek his help in understanding the demented mind of the criminal in order to nab him.
Set in 19th century Baltimore, the film sticks to the serial murder formula against the background of Poe’s miserable life and angst of uncelebrated genius. It invests in a lot of gore, designing its murders with a passion. On the side, the chase to find the murderer goes on unabated. Poe’s personal life is brought into focus as he becomes the central protagonist of this entire drama.
For a film that weaves in so many elements of drama, intrigue and exploration, it limits itself to being a run-n-chase thriller and refuses to delve into the richness of Poe’s narrative or personal world. This refusal to sketch a poignant or poetic sub-text leaves us with a superficial whodunnit period piece, the likes of which we have seen many. The clues and intrigue is lukewarm as the trail heats up stodgily.
19th century Baltimore is created with an emphasis on foggy, mysterious nights coupled with warm colour tones. Period costumes and period emotions are everywhere but something strikes amiss and that could be the inability of the plot to pan out with an impassioned mystery. John Cusack as the frustrated and un/mis-understand Poe delves into his role with sincerity and that slanted eccentricity that informs his dark writing but his character isn’t informed with the psychological layers of a truly memorable one.
There is blood and death in abundance but the glory of killing and the trauma of a lost genius do not find a place in the film. It serves well for a routine watch but misses out on the unforgettable eminence its plot had ample meat for.