Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fantasy Film Reviewed:
The Dark Yet Hopeful Charm

On Saturday, Carmen of God & Culture posted her positive review of NANNY McPHEE. (Make sure to read her intelligent and brief remarks.)

I had always planned to see the flick, as I'm an unabashed ColinFirthophile and EmmaThompsonophile. The woman needs to make more films, cause, frankly, I'm not getting enough of an Emma fix of late.

She wrote the screenplay and acted admirably in this film. She also did this double duty (acted and wrote) in one of my favoritest films, one I've seen fifteen--maybe sixteen--times: SENSE AND SENSIBILITY. And Colin graces several of my fave films: LOVE, ACTUALLY; BRIDGET JONES' DIARY; and the series production of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE.

I figured NANNY McPHEE was going to be a double Brit-thespian yum for me.

Carmen's theologically insightful comments regarding the film got me to see it sooner: Sunday.

I really enjoyed it, I admit, even though the reviews were lukewarm, and even though it was quite a darkish film for a children's flick. Colin's "dad" was annoyingly inept at fathering. (But, hey, it's Colin Firth, and he makes you like him all the same, not to mention the whole swoon factor.) His love is not tempered with wisdom or fortitude or due discipline and attentiveness. The children were little demonspawns, but we see why they are so: They fear a wicked stepmother being foisted upon them, the type of horrible stepmother fairy tales teach them are ubiquitous.

The set design is garish. The colors of walls and furniture and dress and hair horrify the eye no less than the children's misbehavior terrorizes a succession of nannies (this has become something of a cliche, eh), and no less than Nanny's ugliness is stunning to behold. Even the imminent wicked stepmother makes your eyeballs quiver. There really is such a thing as too much pink.

But Nanny has her purpose, and we come to see that this foreboding creature, this instrument of merciless discipline, has the children's--and the whole family's and household's--good as her goal.

Magic is afoot, or rather, is a-stick.

The process by which an unyielding and unsinging Mary Poppins tames the chaos and teaches lessons is a fun ride, even if we see much of it coming from miles away.

I'll add that the film is dosed with enough humor (yes, I laughed quite a bit) to keep it from being too dark.

Carmen's theological point--that the chastisements of Nanny are parallel to the actions of God as described in Romans 1, where He "gave them up" to their sinful desires--is a wonderful observation. If you watch the film, you will understand what this means.

Nanny seemed to me, indeed, to be a God figure. She has powers. She has rules. She has a sort of omniscience. She allows the children to choose, but when they choose, she lets them sweat the consequences. Mercy is not lacking from her, nor great benevolence at the right time.

And, yes, we get a radiantly magical and happy ending.

I cried at the finale. It's the sort of ending that taps right into the sentimental portion of my heart. I am quite a romantic.

NANNY McPHEE: Recommended.

1 comment:

carmen said...

mir, i'm SO glad you liked this film! and i like your line: "magic is a-stick." heh. we must share the same heart as i too found that ending very weep-worthy! blessings.