3.5 out of 5 stars
What surprises me most is not that the Guillermo Del Toro/Tim Burton infused children’s tale turns out to be more of an adult whodunit thriller – and a good one too even though yours truly did guess the ending, not that I mind when it makes sense, but I digress – but that what I thought initially to be whiplash-inducing tonal unevenness of the film turns out to be a misjudgement on my part and that all those various elements and strands (murder mystery; family drama; quasi-supernatural fantasy; horror and probably more) come together in the final reels of the film producing something almost magically coherent and fascinating to watch. This is one of those films that knowing any more will spoil one’s enjoyment so I will only say it is about an accident prone boy called Louis Drax, an overly articulate and thoughtful child, who fell off a cliff and is now in a coma. The film then oscillates between Jamie Dornan’s psychologist trying to find out what happened in the present and flashbacks to Louis’s 9 short years on earth so far. The direction by Alexandre Aja and Max Minghella’s script are effective, unsentimental and manage to avoid over-cuteness. The ensemble is good, especially Aiden Longworth and Sarah Gadon as the mother and son duo at the centre of the drama, producing a pretty little film that will surprise and delight an unsuspecting audience like it did with me. A cross-genre film like this usually comes and goes rather quickly,so I’d recommend checking it out when it hits the small screen at home or on a long haul flight if you’ve missed it at the cinema.