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Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Brilliant film if sadness and hopelessness was its intent.
Last night we went to see Spike Jonez's film adaptation of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I can't say that the film was bad. Considering that everyone in our party, who ranged in age from 7 to 42, had an incredibly strong reaction to it, I have to admit that it probably is quite good. It doesn't mean however, that any of us liked it. None of us did.
As a child, I found the book a little creepy and maybe even sad, but the last images, those of Max returning to his own room on the very night that he had left it and finding his supper, left for him still warm, redeemed some of the angst of the book. Those last few lines left this little reader feeling relieved and hopeful that tomorrow would be a better day for young Max. The film offered no such relief from the considerable gloom and sadness it inflicted.
In fact, Jonez's adaptation was overwhelmingly sad from beginning to end. Worse, there was a weighty hopelessness to it all. Jonez's characters, whether human or monster were so wholly deficient that they appear forever locked in a cycle of longing for love, understanding and acceptance without any apparent means to make it happen. Not one of them presented the strength in character to make those slight alterations of growth and understanding that would break the barrier and connect with the very creature standing next to him, who although desirous of the exact same thing, is somehow rendered unreachable.
The effect was so powerful that even the chatty, joyful eight year old girl in our group left the theater legitimately depressed, an emotion that is completely new to her. If the director's intention was to leave his audience with this level of hopelessness, then the film is brilliant. I myself will not be purchasing the DVD.