Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Awful things happen in every apartment house.

No 78 - Rosemary's Baby
Director - Roman Polanski

After Psycho, lets continue the theme of weird psychological horror linked to motherhood... And a film which is principally there to create a sense of unease (and it does this very well). From the opening credits and the haunting hummed lullaby, it becomes clear that something isn't quite right.
The film follows Rosemary and her husband as they move into a new apartment and Rosemary's husband Guy befriends the elderly tenants whilst Rosemary falls pregnant. The film is littered with unusual events. Nothing obviously supernatural, just little moments which don't feel right. From a jittery paranoid Guy to an oddly clingy and nosy bunch of elderly neighbours... there is also a suicide and the mystery of Tannis root.

The odd moments happen in the background... as does every other character. This is Rosemary's film and all we do is follow her for the entirety of the film. Luckily... Mia Farrow is astounding in this film. It is a really powerful performance which encapsulates almost every human emotion. She manages to be gutsy and determined but also has a sense of frailty. She is fragile. She is vulnerable. You feel for her and you invest so much of yourself into her story that when the film FINALLY ups the drama it feels like a real punch in the gut.

Its important that we like Rosemary - because for the majority of the film all we are doing is following her. Whether she is throwing hip 60's parties (this film made me want to be a 60's hipster) or whether she is getting gradually sicker during her pregnancy, the viewer is captivated by a brilliant multi-faceted performance. So we follow her as people act weirdly but also as the film moves very slowly - with one exception, the weird weird rape dream scene. Or is it a dream?!

It isn't until Rosemary is given a book about witches that the plot really begins to pick up, especially with the reveal that THE NAME IS AN ANAGRAM. And whilst I wish it was Machete's filth owl.... the answer is a lot more shocking and leads to the film's key sequence. The horrific delivery of Rosemary's baby and the subsequent reveal of Adrian.
Like so much of the film, these moments rely solely on Mia Farrow's reactions. But I think this is a good thing... namely, I think it is a good thing that we never see the titular baby as Farrow's reactions paint something horrific... whilst the fleeting glimpses of the devil seen in Rosemary's 'dream' looks like Oddbod out of Carry on Screaming....

So - it is worth watching, but mainly as an incredible performance from Mia Farrow, rather than an excellent overall film.