Starring John Cusack, Luke Evans, Brendan Gleeson and Alice Eve
Directed by James McTeigue
Box Office: $16,005,978 as of July 6, 2012 (USA)
I had tried watching this film once a few months ago and for some reason, I turned it off after about 10-15 minutes. After watching the interview Howard Stern did with John Cusack in 2012 while promoting The Raven (it’s a great interview which made me fall in love with Cusack even more-watch it here), my friend asked if I had watched the film. All I did was shrug and explain that something about it had made me turn it off. I would never turn down an opportunity to watch Cusack and I think every film deserves a second chance so that night, thanks to Netflix we were able to watch it.
I LOVED it. I have never read any of Edgar Allan Poe’s work which I am ashamed to say but I had of course heard of him and of his stories such as The Tell-Tale Heart. I never looked into his life or his background and while this crime, mystery, thriller movie incorporates a few facts about Poe’s life, it also took some “poetic license” with those facts. There are a few moments where I found the movie to be a tad slow but it does keep you wondering what will happen in the end.
Set in Baltimore in the year 1849, a serial killer uses parts of Poe’s stories in his murders and in order to save Emily, Poe’s current love, Poe needs to help track down the killer before it is too late. It is definitely possible to figure out who the killer is but only towards the end and only if you really pay attention to the details- otherwise you will be left guessing until the last ten minutes. A number of Poe’s stories are mentioned throughout the film and that alone made me want to read them.
John Cusack does an amazing job at portraying Poe even though many people criticized him for not looking like him- “Why does he have a goatee?” etc. It was a nice surprise to see so many well known actors and while many believed the acting was “uneven” I think it was overall well done and not a film you should analyze too closely to begin with. It is just a “fun to watch” film to relax with.
After watching the film, I read a bit about Poe’s life and I had no idea he had gone through so many “dark” moments but the fact that he is seen as one of the inventors of the detective fiction literary genres makes a lot of sense. The way this film uses facts about Poe was actually really well done including the mystery revolving around his death. There have been many theories surrounding this including heart disease, epilepsy, cholera, rabies, syphilis and my favorite one, which I believe to be true is cooping. Cooping was a practice in the United States during the 19th century by which unwilling participants were forced to vote, often several times over, for a particular candidate in an election. Generally these innocent bystanders would be grabbed off the street by so-called ‘cooping gangs’ or ‘election gangs’ working on the payroll of a political candidate, and they would be kept in a room, called the “coop”, and given alcohol in order for them to comply. If they refused to cooperate, they would be beaten or even killed. Often their clothing would be changed to allow them to vote multiple times. Sometimes the victims would be forced to wear disguises such as wigs, fake beards or mustaches to prevent them from being recognized by voting officials at polling stations.
Overall, I really enjoyed this film and I would recommend it to anyone but I would also warn them that there were mixed reviews and the ones who did not like it were pretty harsh….
Time to go get a few of Poe’s stories…