Mesmerized (1985) Poster


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Nothing much here
Watcher-3725 August 1999
The incomparable Jodie Foster, along with John Lithgow, headline this movie about a woman on trial for killing her husband. Foster is a girl raised in a home when Lithgow comes to arrange for her to be his wife.

When they marry it turns out that he is a cruel man, and soon he begins to get sick and then sicker as time goes by. The movie leaves nothing to surprise as you know what happens each step of the way, but frankly both Lithgow and Foster have done so much better work that this one is a one time only viewing.
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Fake accents aside. It should have been much better.
phart-18 August 2001
Two very talented actors in a strange and twisted tale. An orphaned girl seeks freedom from her orphanage by marrying an older man she does not love. Not enough character development. Good story with a bad screenplay. I'm sure Jodie would like to stick this one in her "never again" file.
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Didn't quite GET IT!
Clara1998727 May 2005
While I adore Jodie Foster and find all of John Lithgow's performances to be uniquely brilliant, I really didn't get this movie. The actors were great, but the filming, directing, and especially the script were inarticulate and just plain messy. While I kind of understood the plot by the end of the movie, I couldn't help being confused as I watched it. The character development was non-existent. The plot was put together with spit. I felt awful for the actors who looked like they were desperately trying to make sense of the movie for the audience. I've seen other confusing movies where the directing and script were so brilliant that even if I didn't understand it the first time, I was intrigued to watch it again. This time, I really was not interested to attempt it again. What a mess! Still, Lithgow and Foster should be proud of their performances. They really did a good job despite the lack of script. Good material, good story, and good acting - but what a shame that the director and the writer couldn't portray it any better.
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not bad Jodie foster movie
vampi196029 October 2006
mesmerized is a good but very underrated movie about the true story of Victoria Thompson in the 1800's.Jodie foster is great in the role and her acting is above average as usual.well I'm a huge Jodie foster fan so i try to watch all her films,even the little known ones.john lithgow plays her creepy older husband.and Micheal Murphy(Howard sterns private parts)plays a minister who's into hypnotism.well i bought this DVD at a dollar tree store for a buck,the other feature is an early demi Moore film from 1981 called for mesmerized,i was surprised that i enjoyed it,after reading some of the posts i was determined to judge it for myself.all others should do the same,every one has different tastes. if you like Jodie foster then i recommend mesmerized.i give it 7 out of 10.sorry no spoilers.not giving away any of the plot.that would be a sin.
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There's a Good Movie in Here Somewhere
George Escalera15 December 2010
Warning: Spoilers
My Letter to George, a.k.a., Mesmerized, has all the right parts for a very good movie. As it is, it only confounded this viewer.

The performers are well cast and all very good in their roles. The music, the sets and costuming along with the stars all seem committed to relating a very interesting tale based on actual events. In my opinion, it is the ham-fisted editing that sinks the movie. It is possible that the script was not working and a last ditch effort to save the movie in the editing room leaves us with the convoluted release.

We find Oliver Thompson (John Lithgow), to be a man comfortable only in the universe he created for himself and seems to have invited his child-bride, Jodie Foster's Victoria, into that plan only to emulate his domineering father with the child she was to bear.

In this version, Oliver's younger brother George Thompson (Dan Shor) comes off as a lesser character. With more time on screen for development we might we might be able to see what attracts Victoria to him other than merely being a seemingly better option to her circumstance.

There have been some negative comments about the grainy cinematography however I should think that was a deliberate decision on the part of the filmmaker to keep the setting from looking romantic which would have worked against the story. The Jodie Foster character was living in a world that was hardly kind to women. A pretty countryside, nice clothes and home did not make it a wonderful life for Victoria.

Worth a look and should be of interest to students of film.
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I watched it twice
mustang2220 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Being a big Jodie foster fan the first time i watched this I was a bit disappointed. It seemed a bit slow and boring. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this type movie.

The next time I watched this movie with my lowered expectations, I found I actually enjoyed it. Really good acting. Great scenery(the first time I'd seen any of New Zealand).

I liked the simple plot. A very young girl in an pre-arranged marriage with a man she has no love for, and who tells her she will spend her entire life with him on this island. This idea she cannot tolerate. By accidentally learning hypnotism, she then hypnotizes and slowly poisons him to death. By hypnotizing him, the posion he is given does not look like it was forced on him, so she is found not guilty of murder. She's free of him and the island.

This isn't Silence of the Lambs, but I think its still worth a watch.
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See it once so you can check it off the list
Matt James17 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Victoria (Jodie Foster), a foundling, is arrange-married to a New Zealand businessman with the romantic skills (and respect for women) of a Playboy club keyholder. By modern day standards Oliver Thompson (John Lithgow) is brutish, though not, it should be said, by the standards of the time. Victoria shows increasing regret at how things have turned out, amplified by developing feelings for Oliver's brother George (Dan Shor) who, whilst he's no Emmeline Pankhurst, does have the virtue of knowing where his heart is. We meet Thompson sr. (Harry Andrews) and it soon becomes clear where Oliver's idiosyncratic character got its template. Some more demonstrations of brutishness and Oliver's penchant for watching his wife through holes in a wall as she disrobes, a perversion that the demure Victoria finds unbearable. She decides to leg it to the US with George but they are discovered aboard ship and George gets accidentally clonked on the thinkbox with a candlestick. Oliver and his father smooth things over by simply sending his carcass to America without an explanatory note, or even, apparently, a moment's regret. Now in true bondage Victoria settles into the role of attentive wife, and she is so attentive that Oliver suddenly falls ill. Victoria begins to look extremely sinister (why is it that extraordinarily beautiful women can do the chilling psychopathic-slow-burn look so well?)

Along comes the perplexed doctor Finch (Philip Holder) to save the day. But the doc's hippocratic oath is slipping as he admires Victoria's shapely ankles while Oliver attempts to speak, "Gwarhf! Phlurg! Flumsh!" In a scene not for the faint-hearted, the doc offers some typically Victorian bedside manner: "Please try to keep calm. I know that it hurts." Now, let's whip the rest of those pesky teeth out shall we? Mercifully the tortured Oliver soon checks out and is solemly buried, presumably with his teeth in his breast pocket in an envelope marked "Choppers".

In the final scenes which bring us back to the point we came in, Victoria is on trial. The good doctor seems to vacillate between honouring his oath and failing to fend off the image of Victoria's dainty feet which is clearly burning a hole in his trousers. The gambit works and Victoria assumes her place in civilised society where we find George anxiously waiting for her.

Substantively that's the story but there were some issues. The acting was passable though perhaps below the standard we have come to expect from the leading pair. At the time I think Jodie was having doubts about staying in the biz and this was one of several ducks in the years before "The Accused".

The accents were all over the shop. I don't know why Victoria has a cut-glass English accent if she grew up in New Zealand unless the foundling home was staffed by ex Girton girls. (It was unclear to me if the foundling home was in NZ or Blighty) The Kiwi accent is a brave, if variable, try by John Lithgow but he sounds Australian as do other players who attempt to sound correct. To the educated ear, Kiwi and Aussie are vastly different accents.

The music is very strange; eerie when it needn't be and absent when eerie would be appropriate. The editing is either deliberately bizarre else done between (or during) bouts of heavy drinking. These become less of an issue as the film progresses, hinting heavily at a tight deadline and/or a sudden shortage of whiskey. New Zealand is far more beautiful than this film portrays and the under-use of the location is a pity.

It's not a film to be watched often, or indeed, twice. But it can faintly entertain the one time.
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There's a reason this one's in the cut-out bin...
OllieTs8 September 1999
I found this film to be disturbing; not in a David Lynch way but more like some odorous menacing person sitting beside you on a bus that you really don't want to look at but do and then regret it. There were no redeeming factors to be found in spite of the fine acting of Foster & Lith
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Slow pace adds nothing
OsGlink16 August 2002
The slow pace of this movie adds nothing to the suspenseful nature. It's just plain boring. Lithgow and Foster are outstanding, but editing and/or directing made this a crash-and-burn. Yawn! Although the scenery is beautiful at times, the interior shots are all cliched and uninteresting. As if the director is trying to draw the viewer towards well-known references, but rewarding him with nothing novel in the end.
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Odd-ball movie
elevator_opratr17 June 2005
Odd-ball movie. What could have been a decent story, instead fell victim to some very bad acting ... acting that was almost painful to watch ... it felt like the actors/actresses were totally uninterested in recording this.

Based on a supposedly true story based in 1800's New Zealand with an almost unbelievable plot, the unbelievability of the plot is made even more inevitable by poor acting. Instead of driving home the point of the real-ness of the movie, the acting made it look like a joke.

Watch it and be prepared to scratch your head at the end. You'll say to yourself: "either this was total baloney, or it was true, but the story very poorly told."
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Better than people make it out to be.
two_funnie19 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The movie focuses on the story, not special effects or violence. The reason nothing about the actual murder case is found on the internet is that no one has done the research in Australia and posted it anywhere. Just because there are no aliens biting people's heads off or people being gutted or shot every 3 seconds doesn't make a boring or bad movie.

John Lithgow does a splendid job of being a pervert and a mental and emotional abuser, as does the actor playing his heartless father. A letter would have been sent to the orphanage asking for a girl of marrying age, the orphanage would have chosen and supplied her. The result of this marriage was a young bride totally alone, unloved by her husband, treated like dirt by his father, the servants treat her like an intruder, where else was she supposed to turn to? When she makes a friend in the reverend, the husband seems to care little. When she falls in love with her brother in law who DOES have a heart, the husband loses his mind. All he wants is his property, which is what she was considered at the time.

As for other comments on "why didn't the autopsy pick up the poison," the medical facilities of the 1880's weren't the same as today. The doctor didn't lie- he just couldn't testify to something he didn't see.

Jodie Foster did a splendid job of portraying an abused, lonely, unloved wife in an impossible situation.

Foreign films about real stories aren't for everyone. Concentrate on the story, the film is fine.
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Worst Movie I have ever seen
kc838 September 2005
I hired this on DVD ,I had never heard of it and the cover told me nothing not even the year it was made. It was made in New Zealand,I can't believe Jodie Foster traveled there to make it. She had already made several movies including Taxi Driver and Hotel New Hampshire. I bet she is ashamed of it. The quality of the DVD didn't help,from a low budget video company in Australia. The story was boring as well. This has got to be the worst movie I have ever seen.I took it back to the video store and received a free hire of another film. I just found out Foster produced this film,and then bad mouthed it. The film quality is awful,I fast forwarded through a lot of the film.
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Where's the Beef?
longislandlloyd4 July 2005
I bought this film at a 99 Cents store and basically got my money's worth. But I was very disappointed. Where was all the cruelty and bizarre sexual behavior? It really left a lot to your imagination, and a lot to be desired. No frontal nudity, whips, chains, trapeezes, or kinky three-somes. Not even a Clinton-Monica performance. The only gruesome part was the poor old guy getting his teeth pulled - WITHOUT anesthesia. That did nothing to satisfy my sexual curiosity. So if you want to see 19th century New Zealand with period costumes and American accents, go buy Mesmerized. It won't leave you that way, but it won't leave you broke either.
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Un-mesmerizing mess
moonspinner559 January 2005
One of Jodie Foster's post-Yale disasters (she flailed about in the mid-'80s, trying to find her footing before "The Accused" in 1988 got her on the right path). Young woman at the turn of the century arrives in New Zealand as the arranged bride for a man who turns out to be demented (and with bad teeth); in the second act, the husband dies and the wife stands accused. I have rarely seen a film that looked so unlike what it was trying to capture, with ugly, dulled-out color, poor lighting and ungainly costumes. Foster is a beautiful young woman, but she's hidden here behind an unattractive coif, speaking in a tuneless monotone. John Lithgow plays the unfortunate husband, but there wasn't much (if anything) the actor could do with this villainous rotter, the part being so pre-conceived. The sequence involving the extraction of Lithgow's teeth is excruciating and should clear a room faster than a fire alarm. An ungodly bore, "Mesmerized" was surprisingly co-produced by Foster, who later blamed the whole mess on the careless post-production editing. NO STARS from ****
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A real sleeper
John Seal6 December 1999
This vastly underrated Victorian period piece stars Jodie Foster as a woman scorned by her husband, the scheming John Lithgow (here with a very convincing Kiwi accent). Foster co-produced and the film anticipates some of the issues raised in her breakthrough film, The Accused. Harry Andrews is also on hand to deliver one of his typically sturdy performances as Lithgow's father. Personally I found this a fascinating character study, generally well-acted, with some outstanding location photography.
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A Haunting Period Piece
FloatingOpera720 February 2005
Warning: Spoilers
While some find this film dull, slow-paced and even pretentious, I think it's well-written and very haunting. Dating from 1986, Mesmerized stars Jodie Foster prior to her success in such films as Accused and Silence Of The Lambs or even Contact, and by then experienced actor John Lithgow. The premise- an orphaned New Zealand girl is sold into a loveless marriage with wealthy businessman who is cruel and abusive. Michael Murphy plays the role of Wilson, her distant lover. The dark character of Oliver Thomson is played terrifically by John Lithgow. The greatest scenes are those with Lithgow and Foster as Victoria. Jodie Foster, in British accent, plays a very authentic Victorian tragic heroine. The dominant, cruel and sexually bizarre Oliver further breaks the poor Victoria's spirit. Some of the film drags on to a kind of boredom, and lacks the necessary drive for a powerful horror (or psychological horror) as some other films, but it's very Gothic and haunting if you look closely. The dialog is stilted (John Lithgow is even using a Scottish accent) but it works mainly because it's a period piece. Shadows, Victorian homes, barnyards, eerie silences, all effectively work in this movie. The only parts I disliked were the scenes in which Oliver gets sick. He is a bit melodramatic in his sickness. Plus, its incongruous to his domineering persona once so healthy and virile. But the film is good to watch late night. It's almost a 19th century attempt at Silence Of the Lambs which would not come till about 5 years later for Foster, which would make her a star, opposite the equally famous Anthony Hopkins. This film is really quite good and among the better psychological horror pieces. The title refers to the fact Oliver uses hypnosis to control his feisty wife. Very chilling. Makes you think what would happen if someone in our own time would do that to control his or her own spouse. The cinematography is quite good, the costumes, the horse-drawn carriages, all add up to a sustained Gothic melodrama about a dominant man and his mousy wife, who is also not a force to be reckoned with.
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Terrific performances
hms6622 February 2004
The film has a slow paced but interesting plot.

The greatness of this film resides in the performances of Jodie Foster and John Lithgow. Foster's performance is understated but no less powerful. It is a joy to see her subtle facial expressions. Only an actress of Jodie's caliber can convey such strong emotions with so little, like a Rembrandt potrait. This contrasts with the totally different performance of Lithgow. His over the top histrionics are very appropriate to the character he plays.

I enjoyed this film grealty, but most of all, these performances.
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Fair Period Drama
dglink4 October 2015
Victoria, a young orphan in late-19th-century New Zealand, enters into an arranged marriage with a wealthy older man; when she comes of age, she leaves the orphanage and goes to live with her husband, who is little more than a stranger to her, and finds married life difficult to face. Her new husband is loutish and chauvinistic, but he has a handsome sensitive younger brother, which complicates the young girl's life. A romantic triangle, tragedy, and mystery ensue; when Oliver, the husband, becomes ill, the cause could be the chemicals he uses to exterminate rats or something more sinister. "Mesmerized," which was originally titled "My Letter to George," is a tidy did-she or didn't-she supposedly based on true events. Co-written and directed by Michael Laughlin, the film may be too slow for some; events unfold at a leisurely pace, but those attuned to PBS dramas or Merchant-Ivory productions may find it to their liking.

Jodie Foster both co-produced and stars as Victoria, the orphaned child bride; her cool impassive demeanor suits the role of an unwilling wife in a loveless marriage. However, her iciness extends a bit too far, and little heat ignites between Foster and Don Shor, who plays the younger brother, George, which undercuts their supposed attraction. John Lithgow breathes life into Oliver, the grizzled insensitive husband; he has some good moments, and his character is more vibrant and alive than that of the cold Victoria. Harry Andrews also does well as Oliver's equally loutish father.

A delicate score by Georges Delerue enhances the period film, and the script, co-written by Jerzy Skolimowski, is well written and literate. A short, well intentioned movie, "Mesmerized" is no classic, but better than average, and boasts a good performance by Lithgow, a fine score by Delerue, and an enigmatic fade-out that will leave viewers pondering, "Did she? Or didn't she?"
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This film is BLOODY awful!!!!
FunBoy-21 August 1999
I bought this film based on the fact that Jodie Foster was in it. I wish I would have kept the receipt. The plot drags along like a dead mule. Foster pulls off the role of a much younger girl quite well, but John Lithgow does not help the film in the least. AVOID THIS FILM!!!!!!!
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Vastly underrated movie.
morsdag20 April 2002
We thought this movie was wonderful. Movie fans who think Jodie Foster too stoic might reflect on the character's upbringing. She was a teenager raised with a questionable amount of love given her. In the two places she lived as child and child bride it made sense for her to "mind" and to be careful of showing her true feelings.


PS The closing credits are accompanied with uncredited Maori singing. At least I couldn;t see the group's name in the credits.
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Where have we seen this before?
ericl-220 August 1999
While watching this on late-night TV recently, I couldn't help but think back to an Oscar-bedecked offering that was released about seven years later - The Piano. Both set in New Zealand, both about mail-order brides who can't stand their husbands ... etc. Mesmerized doesn't indulge in the florid touches with which Jane Campion pumped up her rather empty opus (chopped off fingers, Harvey Keitel's Maori facial tattoos and frontal nudity, etc.), and this is certainly a serious effort by co-producer Foster, but that doesn't mean it's better filmmaking. In fact, despite the cast, it's flat and unimpressive visually and for the most part boring storywise. So if Campion did any ripping off, it was at least in the interests of high camp.
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Jodie Foster's acting fails to impress
anthonyinaction28 May 2006
"Mesmerized" follows the story of a young woman Victoria (Jodie Foster) in New Zealand 1880 who is put on trial for killing her husband Oliver (John Lithgow). Victoria is virtually forced into marrying Oliver, who just shows up wanting to marry her.

The story is very intriguing and, at times, keeps you on the edge of your seat. Unfortunately, the story also appears "broken" (e.g. why does Oliver suddenly show up out of the blue wanting to marry Victoria?) and the cinematography is sloppy and the acting extremely poor. If you want a film with entertainment, this is not the film to watch.

1 star - don't bother.
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She Was Tired Of Trimming His Nose Hairs
Rainey Dawn8 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
A true story? I don't believe that bologna. I think the only part of it that might have been true is that he was sicko pervert, possessive and jealous over her. She murdered with the help of her doctor boyfriend that she wanted. I do know that marriages were often arranged at that time. That's it - that's the parts of the film I believe.

I do not believe all the hypnotism/mesmerism mumbo-jumbo that happened. She was hypnotized first then learned how to hypnotize so she could mesmerize her husband - that's bull-cocky.

She was tired of trimming his nose hairs and him peeking through the holes while she dressed/undressed. And she didn't love him to begin with - it was a type of arranged marriage. That is why she killed him - if the story is true or partly true or totally false.

It's okay - it's somewhat watchable but NOT the story I was hoping it to be... I never expected literal mesmerism. I thought the Mesmerism title referred to him being metaphorically mesmerized by her.

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Gonna be a tough one
Byrdz3 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It is going to be very difficult to write even a mini-review of "Mesmerized ( aka "My Letter to George") not because there is way too much to say about it but because there is so little.

The film is almost not even there. Jody Foster and John Lithgow hardly ever interact other than looking at each other and there is no real character development or much of a plot.. this with a story involving murder and a trial ! It's just not a very good film which may be the reason I had never heard of it until I found it at the local library sale.

The countryside, what we see of it, is beautifully New Zealandish. The costumes seem pretty authentic (one of the little bits of plot is that we see Jody Foster's character disrobe... um OK. ) Another "give it a miss" unless you want to see all of someone's films.
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Jodie Foster Out-Performs New Zealand's Peter Jackson
vitaleralphlouis21 July 2006
Comparing Jodie Foster's 1986 New Zealand based film with New Zealand filmmaker Peter Jackson's poisonously awful 2006 "remake" of King Kong, Foster is the clear-cut winner. The difference is that Foster's film is a quality movie. Mesmurized also compares well with Foster's own Panic Room or Flightplan. In Mesmurized the suspense is real, in the other two pictures the suspense is contrived and quickly forgotten. With rich local color recreating New Zealand in the 1880's this picture drives home the lack of opportunity and repressiveness women lived with a century ago. These days young women have a wealth of opportunity in choosing a mate, a sex partner, a career, everything. Here this girl goes from an orphanage into an arranged marriage, to live with a man she neither knows nor loves, with no apparent opportunity to either escape or change. This was called NORMAL. The somewhat abusive John Lithgow character is deep-down frightened of his wife, clueless as to how to communicate with a woman and establish a loving friendship. His brother George has no such problem, simply inviting Jodie "would you care to look at the dogs" -- doesn't sound like much, does it; but it amounts to an opening-up of friendship. The hard suspense lies in whether and how Foster will free herself from the repression. I well understand the negative reviews posted herein. Young people today have no knowledge of the harsh repressions of yesteryear, a time and place where paths to happiness dead-ended fast. God bless their ignorance; celebrate their joy.
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