April 27, 2003

Human Nature

Another from the twisted mind of Charlie Kaufman, the fellow who wrote Being John Malkovitch and last year's Adaptation. Patricia Arquette fearlessly plays a woman who has a genetic disorder that results in the growth of hair all over her body. Rhys Ifans (who I'm sure is looking forward to the day when he won't be remembered primarily as Hugh Grant's crass flatmate in Notting Hill) is a man raised in the woods as an ape by his delusional father. Tim Robbins is a research psychologist attempting to teach table manners to mice (and then to Ifans).

Between those descriptions and the title, you should be able to surmise that the movie takes all the conventions of civilized life and tweaks them until they break. The result is occasionally funny, but more often just made me wince, whether from sympathy with the characters or the actors or my own mildly offended sensibilities, I can't really say. I find myself wanting to pick at all the ways in which the film wasn't quite as good as it could have been. As audacious as it was, I feel like it was still pulling its punches, wavering on the line between full-out farce and satirical commentary, achieving neither.

One of the most fun parts of the film was Miranda Otto as the faux-French lab assistant femme fatale who could easily be an older version of her hilarious Dimity Hurley from the bizarre Love Serenade.

Verdict: 2 stars (out of 4)

Posted by jeffy at April 27, 2003 10:37 PM