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“the mist” – film review

its funny how with some movies the ending has such a big influence on what you think of the film. we enjoyed this film quite a lot but the ending has left me feeling very ambivalent indeed.

in fact, the ending left me feeling awful. it left us both feeling awful. we kept looking at each other saying “no!” and thinking “this can’t be the ending”. it just felt wrong.

it wasn’t the perfect film but we were having a really good time before the end derailed us. it started a little shakily. darabont got up to some crazy shit with his camera work – all his shots were way too tight and he was trying too hard to engage the audience and to try to establish an emotional connection with his big ensemble cast.

also, the first monster moment wasn’t particularly well handled and around then the rhythm also wasn’t great. there were some positives during the opening, however, with the mood being established quite well and braugher being in good form.

after the opening the film got better and better as darabont got some momentum going, and by about halfway charlotte and i were gripped! what also drew us in was how the film started taking on a slightly different direction than expected. after the first monster appears you think you know what kind of film this is going to be but the tone shifts after a while as the crisis starts to take on a different form.

the shift really caught us offguard. with king although the scope of what can happen in his stories is literally boundless there is always one limitation to them – scale. no matter how bad things get there is always the assuring knowledge that what is happening is confined to a relatively small scale – a log cabin or a small town. and even when the scale is geographically large as with the stand it is psychologically minimised by the feeling that there is a potent force for good that will overcome the baddies (i speak of the king films that i’ve seen, of course, never having read a king book (i’m too scared!)).

in the mist the scale of the crisis is immense and its when one realises this that the film turns. from that moment on the film was exhilerating and quite scary, and we were afraid because we realised that anything could happen. up until the climax charlotte and i were absolutely gripped.

and then that thing happened.

like i said, its left me ambivalent. charlotte and i were talking about it and we were saying how we can sort of see why it ends the way it does. it makes sense. so from that perspective i guess one can’t say its a bad ending. its not like we can say “oh thats so stupid!” or “what a cop out!” or “thats ridiculous! that makes no sense”.

but is it satisfying? for us it wasn’t. you can have an ending which is really harrowing but when you look back at the film as a whole you realise it works. as much as you’d want things to turn out differently you know that the film works best with it ending the way it does. it fits in with the internal structure and because of that the ending, as terrible as it is, is satisfying. (i realise that this is subjective; for instance i find the endings of american history x and oldboy very satisfying, but charlotte doesn’t.)

with the mist, however, we weren’t satisfied. perhaps there wasn’t enough foreshadowing or maybe it wasn’t clear enough that it was going to be that kind of film because whatever happens in a film, even the biggest surprises, the director always has to prepare his audience to accept it. ultimately we weren’t. 

because of that its hard to say what our overall impression of this film is. i think i’ll just say that we enjoyed most of it.

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  1. November 30, 2008 at 9:53 pm

    I think I enjoyed this film *more* because of the ending. It was so harsh and unfair and, well, I dunno, real or something.

  2. December 2, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Haven’t seen it and unfortunately I heard a lot about it from my brother so I’m going to have to wait awhile until I forget some of what he told me before I could ever have the potential to enjoy it.

  3. jean pierre
    December 3, 2008 at 10:01 am

    FENCE:

    i can appreciate that, ’cause intellectually i found the ending very interesting. and i tried and tried to see it from that point of view, but i just couldn’t get over my emotional response. i guess it has to do with the peak that the film left me at – the way i’d personally been prepared for the ending.

    CARL:

    oh dear! well, don’t even read this comments section then! i hope you can forget about it enough to watch it free from any associations…

  4. December 12, 2008 at 6:28 pm

    Hi JP! I can’t seem to find your gmail address anywhere. Just your work one and a hotmail one I’m not sure you still use, and all the comments say is .

    All this to say, sorry for answering here, but the answer to your question is yes, it is from them. That matches the person’s name and location, and after Christmas you’ll find out the rest 😛

    Again, sorry for answering here!

    PS: This movie actually sounds cool, despite the disappointing ending.

    PS2: While snooping around your blog trying to find an e-mail link I found your librarything catalogue, and I noticed you gave The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson 1 star and a half 😛 Mind if I ask why? I haven’t read it, but it’s actually one I’ve been meaning to get because I love that sort of thing. Well, usually anyway. I read his Notes from a Small Island recently and I had some problems with it (mainly, his constant complaining got annoying), but for the most part I still enjoyed it. I see you gave that one a low rating too, so maybe you just don’t like Bill? Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

  5. December 12, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    For some reason wordpress ate what I said the comments said, which was “noreply@blogger.blabla” 😛

  6. jean pierre
    December 14, 2008 at 4:00 pm

    ah, thanks!!

    no worries about posting here. (don’t know why it wouldn’t let you post first time, though..?!)

    and thanks for finding out. the mystery is solved – and now it can go under my tree…! although, i’m finding it mighyty hard not to to open it beforehand…

    yeah, the mist was a lot of fun to watch!

    sa for “mother tongue”, well, as interesting as bryson is i find him very annoying because he’s so whiney! he’s also incredibly defensive and, in “mother tongue”, especially about being american and american english. that really didn’t make it pleasant to read for me.

    most people like it a lot, however, and don’t object to these things. my feeling about the book is a very personal response to his writing but you may well like it a lot!

  7. December 15, 2008 at 11:53 am

    We are in complete agreement, then. I thought he was pretty whiny too 😛 I’ll keep what you said in mind when I get to The Mother Tongue. I didn’t imagine it would be possible to complain or be defensive in a book about language, but it looks like old Bill managed it 😛

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