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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Tall Man: I Believe the Children Are Our Future

the tall man 2012 movie poster

In the financially devastated mining town of Cold Rock, WA a community is plagued by the disappearance of numerous children, seemingly by the hands of a dark, mythical figure known as the Tall Man. As the town desperately tries to figure out where their kids have been taken to, a mother does whatever's in her power to get her missing son back, all the while unwittingly unraveling the truth behind the missing children, the Tall Man and an unexpected motivation that will throw a wrench into viewer's expectations.

Directed by French filmmaker Pascal Laugier, The Tall Man is a film that has sparked a small amount of debate from a number of people who have sat down to watch it. Naturally, The Tall Man hasn't called for the intense "discussion" that came with Laugier's previous film, 2008's Martyrs, for reasons that are obvious to anyone who has seen that film (and if you haven't, then please do). Regardless, before seeing The Tall Man for myself, I had read various opinions that ranged from people who either love or hate it, or others who really like the first half but disliked the second half and vice versa.

the tall man 2012 

Since The Tall Man is filled with numerous unexpected occurrences (that's fancy talk for twists), I will keep this brief and say outright that I'm very happy that Laugier has been able to craft yet another film that is far from conventional. Naturally, as I've mentioned, this one has gotten pretty mixed reviews, but  there's certainly no denying that The Tall Man provokes a certain level of thought. The direction that the film goes in is basically impossible to predict, and I felt like I was never sure where the narrative could be going because it never once went where I thought it would.  

If there's a major theme strewn throughout The Tall Man, it is neglect. The neglect of children; the neglect of a town's communal, financial and physical structure; the neglect for one's own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around them. This theme of neglect is given time to flourish as the unpredictably captivating story plays out, but it is only in the end that it's truly brought to the forefront, making everything that has come before it seem all the more clear.

the tall man 2012 1

Jessica Biel gives a very strong performance that grows deeper and more impressive as the film moves towards its unexpected, and possibly alienating to some, climax. It's her character that I believe shows Laugier has a thing for writing complicated female characters who are much deeper than they initially appear to be. Something else the director seems to be keen on is making a pretty gorgeous looking movie. Like Martyrs, The Tall Man is a finely crafted piece of cinema with a visual style that becomes increasingly more appealing as the story progresses towards its climax.

Being a huge fan of Martyrs, I'm not disappointing in The Tall Man, mostly because I knew there was really no possible way Laugier could do something quite like that again. Regardless, I do think he has brought something very interesting to the table with a film that will not only catch you off guard but will make you put your thinking cap on real tight. And for me, the mark of a strong film comes from the thought it commands from me afterwards, and with The Tall Man, my thoughts led me to enjoy the movie infinitely more than if I had simply shrugged it off and moved on with my day.

10 comments:

  1. Agreed! I watched it over the weekend not knowing what to expect, but knowing to NOT expect Martyrs. I think the film has some issues, but I agree that there's a lot of good here, and more importantly, I love that it shares some of Martyrs' strength while also being something completely different.

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    1. Emily: Glad to hear you liked it, Emily! I seem to enjoy it more and more as time passes, and it doesn't hurt that I watched it with my wife, who also enjoyed it, and we've been able to talk about it, which has made the film more enjoyable. I'm very curious how the film will play out on a second viewing.

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  2. Alright, watching this one ASAP. I'm convinced to give it a shot.

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    1. Nice, I hope you like it! I think knowing it's a divisive film helps going into it, and while I know it has gotten mixed reviews, I think it's one that everyone should check out just to see where they stand.

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  3. I hated this flick. I felt totally fooled by the bait and switch that lead me to believe this was going to be a horror movie. It turned out to be a preachy drama. I was with it until the first major twist, and then I wanted to go all Martyrs on Pascal right after. Of course, I love the other divisive film of the year, The Innkeepers, so different strokes I guess.

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    1. Ha, I actually didn't start getting into the film until that first twist! I can see feeling duped. I think that might have been a big problem for a number for people who have seen it, too. Having read some reviews and other people's thoughts about The Tall Man not being the horror film that it was being sold as certainly prepared me for the lack of horror.

      I definitely blame the Stateside marketing for it, though. The trailer for the film in the U.S. really pushes the film as a sort of monster movie while the French trailer shows the film as more of a thriller, which is what it is. Even the original title was The Secret, which is certainly way more fitting than The Tall Man.

      Lastly, I loved The Innkeepers! In fact, like The Tall Man, I liked it at first, but over time it grew on me to the point where I now love it.

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  4. And put me in the camp of 'Liked The Tall Man, didn't like "The Inkeepers'

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    1. Both films are definitely pretty divisive, though The Innkeepers has gotten a lot more love than The Tall Man, that's for sure.

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  5. It's hard for to say, 'Yeah, maybe I should go back and watch it again' because for me, the movie had waaaay too many holes for me to even follow or enjoy it. That being said, I can make a verdict because practically, the best thing to do is watch again.

    Thus far, I'm in the 'really strong beginning, WTF ending' camp. But I agree that the characters were very captivating and the acting alone, carried my interest to even watch to the very end.

    The Innkeepers I have not made it all the way through yet. I know it's Ti West, so I got the whole SLOOOOW first half but it was really that bad?

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    1. I'd have to give it a good re-watch to see if there are any holes left after knowing the reveal. I felt like a lot of things fell into place when the ending was revealed, but it's tough to say after only one viewing.

      As for The Innkeepers, I really enjoyed it, but it is pretty slow, which is certainly a West thing (and something I appreciate). My favorite thing about The Innkeepers is actually Sara Paxton, who is convincingly awkward while still being utterly charming (and cute).

      Though, like The Tall Man, I don't really see The Innkeepers as a horror film so much as it's a quirky character piece about a two people being stuck in a boring job and trying to make the best of it. I have some more thoughts on the horror aspect of the film, but I don't want to expand on them too much until I know you've seen the film in its entirety. Anyway, I think it's the lack of dead on horror that has turned some people off from the film.

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