Friday, December 31, 2010

Rosemary's Baby. B+


When Roman Polanski was given the script for Rosemary's Baby, he started it and thought it was a melodrama. It's actually sort of true, and, as one individual stated on the DVD's special features, the film opens like a Doris Day picture. And in a way it stays that way until about the final third, when it creeps into slightly generic witchcraft lore. But for the first 100 minutes or so, it's surprising just how normal the film is. With the exception of some eldritch dreams, the movie really is just about a couple adjusting to a new life. Yet it's clear from the start that this belongs in the horror genre, so even the slightest oddity causes a sense of unease. The movie isn't scary, but it is very suspenseful. Take two neighbors who spill their benevolence out to the husband and wife, yet by taking their kindness and consideration to an extreme, they make us feel scared. No one is that friendly. We sense they will be involved with some impending shocker. Still, as I said, this movie is surprisingly normal, and, as Polanski called it, melodramatic. It deals with a couple trying to adjust to a new apartment, the husband trying to succeed as an actor while the wife stays at home preparing for motherhood. The movie really doesn't start getting weird until the final act, yet it's that sense of dread that makes us uneasy the whole way through. This, I presume, is Polanski's intention the whole time. He shows marvelous restrain for a first-time director in Hollywood, and also a real knowledge of suspense, the way Hitchcock would define it. Instead of shocking us with a bomb exploding, Polanski lets us know it's there and then begins the slow burn.

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