Crimson Peak Review
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Make no mistake, Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak is good. It may be overlooked for a while, but eventually it will be used in filmmaking courses. It’s well acted and tightly plotted, with sumptuous production.

Mia Wasikowska is perfect as Edith Cushing, an intelligent, ambitious woman who, as the daughter of a self-made man, wants to make herself in her own turn. She’s a little naive, but she’s highly curious, and she wants to be a writer. Wasikowska plays every scene focused—except those where Edith is threatened or distressed—and she shows her character’s conflict.

Edith’s mother died of cholera, and her ghost returns to warn Edith about Crimson Peak. When Edith grows up, she’s still interested in ghosts—just not in the man who shares her interest, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam).

The man who catches her eye is Sir Thomas Sharpe, Baronet. Tom Hiddleston plays a man who is of the old noble class but would join the new capitalists. He fails. While others go up in wealth, he is coming down. He has secrets that he will not give up, and much of the movie is about discovering those.

Hiddleston’s Thomas is a man with enough secrets to be a spy. He’s charming but threatening in a way that’s hard to define at first. Every move he makes seems false and planned, except when he’s pushed to the brink. He’s Edith’s polar opposite, as if the two could cure each other’s faults.

Thomas’s sister, Lucille, is played by Jessica Chastain, who steals nearly every scene she’s in. There’s something about her that’s barely contained. Possibly it’s insanity; maybe it’s something worse. But where Edith is curious and Thomas is afraid, Lucille constantly rages with inside anger.

Once Thomas and Edith get married, they go to the Sharpe manor home. It’s a dump, and every obligatory scene for a Gothic is there and subverted. At one point, Edith becomes a gibbering wreck. Her nightgown is white because, in Gothics, women always go insane wearing white. But in this case, she’s quite sane; she really did see a ghost.

As Edith uncovers facts, she puts herself in ever greater danger. It all comes to a head when Dr. McMichael comes all the way to the Old World. And if there is a fault to the movie, it’s that, as a mystery, it’s a little simple. But the richness of plot and detail more than make up for that.

Recommended for people who like a thoughtful movie.

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