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Cinephile Report: Tideland

Why must we wait endless years between Terry Gilliam's genius? Why does Hollywood throw millions of dollars at "Most Fastest and Furiouser 3" when this man is banging down doors to try and make classics?

With last year's disappointing but visually arresting Brothers Grimm we were reminded how Hollywood can warp what Gilliam does best and so wisely he chose a smaller completely uncommercial film to take on next, shot and funded by Telefim right here in Canada.

Tideland, his new dark and bizarre film plays like a - Gummo meets Alice in Wonderland - gothic prairie fable and has strongly divided critics. Some see it as his worse film while others are completely transfixed by the uniquely twisted story.

Tideland's story is small in scale and relies heavily on the performance of Jodelle Ferland, as
Joiza-Rose, a young girl who on the run with her junkie dad after the overdose death of her mother finds herself living alone in a dilapidated country house with the corpse of her father who also overdoses.

The real key to this film is the combo of Ferland's acting and Gilliam's imagination. Ferland carries the film in a way that no child actress I can think of has ever before and I pray she gets her much deserved Genie. It's her calculated and imaginative performance of girl whose reality and fantasy clash along with her dual performances as the voices of her only friends, Barbie doll heads that rest on her fingers that shape and hold the film's creepy and curious tone together.

The story itself twists and turns when Ferland finds out she's not alone and with floods, witches, mummification, animal trains, bizarre uncomfortable sexual situation and the power of a child's imagination, Tideland takes off.

There are some issues with pacing and it's not Gilliam at his best but it's certainly a reminder of how he has the power to get under your skin and isn't afraid to take on the kind of stories and subject matter that makes us squirm.

Do yourself a favor and don't listen to critics on this one. The film looks great, sounds great and is a hell of a lot better then most releases this year. The cinematography and visual styling orchestrated by Gilliam is him at his most uncomplicated best and the film stuck with me long after it's touchingly surreal ending.

If for anything go to see Jennifer Tilly's cameo as Joliza-Rose's mother doing her best Courtney Love impression. Beats the hell out of the Grudge 2, I guarantee.


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