Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Flowers in the Attic Review

I got a chance to watch the made-for-TV movie "Flowers in the Attic" (FITA) before everyone in Asia gets its first glimpse. I made it to the advanced screening of the Lifetime TV movie at the Glorietta Cinema 3.

FITA, a remake of the 1987 cinematic of the same title, is a story of a four children who moved to their grandmother's home after their father died and how they would bear their always mad grandma and eventually their mom's abandonment.

What I liked about the movie was the early plot twists, like the mother's (Heather Graham) admission that her husband, the children's father, is her uncle and the surprise kisses of the older siblings (Mason Dye and Kiernan Shipka). It made me more eager to finish the dramatic movie, although I'm not really not that into dramas.

I also like the development of the story--from how the grandmother (Ellen Burstyn) introduced herself to how the children eventually found out that their mom want them dead so that she can solely get her inheritance. I got intrigued at how a mother would kill her children just for money, and she even forgot that she once loved her un... er... husband!

Speaking of which, I really got intrigued about the theme of the movie--incest. Unlike the 1987 flick, which was set in the modern-day, the 2014 adaptation of the 1979 novel by V.C. Andrews was set during the late 50's, in which at that time, Christian families were really strict about the rules. Great move there by Lifetime to set the movie at that time since it's consistent to that of the novel.

Back to the incest theme, I got curious at how incest almost ruined the lead characters and how a new case of incest brought them together till the end. When the movie started, I thought, "What's R-16 about this movie?" (the MTRCB rated FITA R-16 for its sensitivity, but the start would make you think this is OK for teens below 16).

Eventually, though, the middle parts of the TV flick introduced me to the sensitive parts, like the admission that the parents are, in a way, blood-related, how the mom slowly abandoned her kids and eventually eloped with her lawyer (Bruce Dylan) as per the storyline of its sequel, and how the characters of Dye and Shipka as Chris and Cathy respectively developed an affair of their own. Definitely not safe for kids!

For me, however, while the development of the story was splendid, how the actors portrayed it out was not that great. Maybe I really don't have a knack for drama, but I did not feel the impact of the acting. I think Dye and Shipka's acting were raw. Well, the US initially showed FITA in January 19 (Philippine time), so I presume the production was made last year. I believe they improved in their acting now.

Graham's portrayal of Corrine the mother was not that splendid. She stood out a bit, but it did not appeal me much. What stood out for me, however, was Burstyn's performance as Olivia the grandmother. I felt how brutal she was to her grandchildren for her religious beliefs. No wonder grandma rules! Also, take note of the fact that Burstyn was an Oscar winner and her portrayal of Olivia earned her an Emmy nomination.

Ellen Burstyn's epic acting, however, did little to lift her TV movie to the top. I liked the story and her acting, but the other actors' not-so-good performance brought the movie down. I give FITA the UP-standard passing grade, a six out of ten (60% gives a UP student a grade of 3).

PS: I also did not like the cuts. I needed to see the cut scenes in full just for me to judge the movie.

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