First off, apologies for the lack of posts recently, I’ve been in hospital for an operation on my nose (inspiring this Top 5). Also, apologies if the posts over the next few days are a little off, I’m on a veritable Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster of meds, but I’ll try and keep everything as on topic as possible.
Johnny Depp successfully accomplished the transition from TV heart throb to serious movie actor with this, Tim Burton’s fourth directorial outing, leading to at present a further seven collaborations between the two bizarelly-haired gentlemen. Depp stars as Edward, the creation of a reclusive inventor (the legendary Vincent Price, in an all too brief cameo in his final film role) who remains incomplete after the inventor passes away. Edward looks human enough, but where five-fingered appendages should be on the ends of his arms, there are instead a multitude of blades, knives and scissors. After being discovered living alone by Dianne Wiest’s kindly Avon lady Peg, Edward is brought into the ‘normal’ world of 1950s suburban American.
As much comedy is made from Edward’s physical impairment as possible, with his blades coming into contact with waterbeds and hindering his ability to get dressed, pick up a glass, open a door or touch his face, but he shows an aptitude for carving meat, topiary, hairdressing, dog grooming, paperchain-cutting and being used as a kebab skewer. This does bring up the subject of exactly how Edward had survived alone in the castle before his ‘rescue,’ but as this is essentially a fairytale, minor plot details can be smoothed over.
As ever, Burton shows a deft hand with his casting. Depp is wonderful as Edward, showing childlike wonder at the new world around him, and expressing true depth of emotion from behind a stark appearance, all pale face, scars, bedraggled mop of hair and tight plastic and leather bondage-inspired clothing, and with minimal dialogue. Winona Ryder is cast against type (in that she wears colourful clothing and has blonde hair) as Peg’s cheerleader daughter Kim, and Alan Arkin and Wiest are wonderful as the parents welcoming Edward into their home. Anthony Michael Hall as Kim’s brutish boyfriend is more of a stretch though; the nerdy Breakfast Club star cannot be taken seriously in a bad guy role.
The film is lighthearted and entertaining, and has some genuine comic moments. The bookends of a clearly aged Winona Ryder are more obvious than the supposed narration reveal of the Notebook, but this features one of the greatest and most memorable character creations of cinema, and some fine acting too.
Choose film 7/10