Richard and Judy's Blog

Richard and the Deathly Hallows

Monday 22 November 2010

It’s a funny old week to find yourself in the States. There’s a mini-tsunami of Britmania going on. The newspapers and TV networks have been awash with the royal wedding and Harry Potter; it’s hard to say which of the two stories flowing from merrie olde England(they really do use that expression over here) has the edge.

For column inches and airtime, probably Wills and Katie. For good old fashioned feelgood excitement and a sense of common ownership, it has to be Potter. Americans feel like they own a piece of Harry and his chums; they’ve invested time and dollars in the books and films. The royal engagement is fascinating, but it’s nothing really to do with them. They’re intrigued, but not involved. However, Harry, Hermione and Ron can be all yours for a couple of hours in the darkness of the duplex. You’re with them on their journey to search for and destroy fragments of Voldermort’s soul, hidden in evilly-charmed icons; you feel their pain (in poor Hermione’s case, courtesy of a graphic torture scene; more on that later).

The penultimate Potter movie is easily the darkest yet, and Judy was doubtful as we bought the obligatory popcorn and went into a heavily air-conditioned Florida auditorium. ‘I like Hogwarts and all the floating candles and the Whomping Willow, and Quidditch,’ she grumbled as we sat down. ‘I hope this isn’t going to be all gloom and doom.’

Well, actually, it is, but it’s terrific and for our money ($7.50 a head) The Deathly Hallows is probably the best and the most grown-up Potter film yet. That’s partly because of the way the Radcliffe/Grint/Watson axis has matured. The three all-but grown-up actors hold the core of the story firmly in their grip and some scenes are too close to call, in terms of who walks away with it. Grint, as Ron, is particularly powerful when he confronts Harry with all his doubts about their mission, and in doing so reveals a simmering suspicion that his best friend is trying to steal his girl.

Radcliffe, who in interviews this week said he thinks Potter has a hero complex, plays it exactly like that and conveys Harry’s growing arrogance well. I particularly liked the scene where he sincerely thanks Ron for ‘everything you’re all doing for me’ only to be slapped down with a scornful: ‘It’s not about you, actually Harry. It’s a lot bigger than you, mate.’

Some critics have suggested that the long middle section of Deathly Hallows, where the threesome plod wearily through a succession of bleak, empty landscapes, is too slow. It IS slow, but it is fascinating. The pacing allows the characters’ inner turmoil and fear to slowly surface in a natural and believable way. It can be moving, too. The little scene where Harry and Hermione, temporarily deserted in the wilderness by a furious, sexually-jealous Ron, allow themselves a little chaste dance to a rock track on the radio, is touchingly done.

The closing sequences move quickly into overdrive, with a violent clash between wizards and death-eaters. It’s strong stuff by Harry Potter standards: Hermione is pinned to a castle floor and tortured for information by Helena Bonham-Carter’s spectacularly sadistic Bellatrix. Emma Watson’s agonised and extended screams of agony are actually very disturbing. You’ll be glad when it’s over. I was.

Rather like reviewing Titanic, it’s difficult not to give the end away - almost everyone knows it – but Voldermort’s exultant closing scene sets up Deathly Hallows, part two, very well.

‘Not too dark for you, then?’ I asked Judy as we left.

‘Not at all. The best yet,’ she said. ‘And somehow, I feel really proud of those three kids. Well, not kids any more, but you know what I mean. They’ve grown into such good actors.’

Listen. If my wife is bored in the cinema or the theatre, she has no hesitation in going home. It happens all the time. Halfway through the long, stygian central part of the movie, I nudged her for the first time.

‘Well? What d’you think, then?’

Her answer said it all.

‘Shhh!!’

RM

Add a Comment
  • Agree that this is the best yet. Emma Watson outshines the others, Radcliffe has never captured me as an actor and Rupert shows he isn't just the comic of the trio. Brilliant. $7.50? Cheap at half the price!

    Dawn

  • I completely agree with you Richard, i enjoyed every minute of the film. It has just the right amount of humour and light heartedness to carry it through the darker elements. I left wanting more......

    Deborah Needham

  • I Totally agree with you Richard and with Judy it was amazing I want to see it again and am so looking forward to the 2nd part ! I also found it emotional whether it was because it will all soon be over or because of the sadness and devastaion of the film ! the acting was amazing through out the film, and it kept me gripped through out too love love love it x

    Jackie

  • Totally agree with everyone. It is the best yet. I can't wait for the next installment, in fact I would have been quite happy to stay in the cinema and watch the 2nd part straight after back to back if I had had the chance :0)

    Jenny Tremlett