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12/27/11

EDWARD SCISSORHANDS - REVIEW


What can I say about Edward Scissorhands?

Here's a movie I've probably seen every year since its release: like The Nightmare Before Christmas and Batman Returns, it's pretty much become a Christmas tradition. Already a fan of Tim Burton's back catalogue, this is the film which sealed the deal: Burton had my childhood by the balls and he would never let go without a fight.

Since, I grew up and although some of the director's films I've grown to simply like (or feel relatively indifferent towards) rather than blindly worship, Edward Scissorhands is one of those which still feels genuinely special.

I mean, modern fairytales of the sort are made pretty much every year these days and, with certain exceptions (Pan's Labyrinth, Where The Wild Things Are), actually good ones are incredibly rare. For every Edward Scissorhands there's 10 Goobys. But what makes Burton's film work particularly well? The marriage of gothic Frankenstein-style B movie sensibilities with a quirky, paranoid, gossipy, colourful suburbia right out of the 1960's, add to that a beautifully chilling and playful score by Danny Elfman, Johnny Depp's loveable cookie-hearted monster and a heartbreaking love story at the heart of it all and you've got yourself something touching, unique and effortlessly magical.

Depp is subtly great, proving himself as a true silent movie icon, emoting longing, fear, sadness, anger, jealousy, happiness through looks, smiles and grimaces rather than expositional dialogs. He turns Edward, whom we first see as a sort of terrified little child, into a man, a hero we can really get behind. And just when we finally come to love our adorable protagonist he is taken away from us, banished to an eternity of solitude and isolation.

A genius supporting cast makes Edward's world that little bit more believable and fun: Alan Arkin and Dianne Wiest make a sweet well-meaning (if altogether clueless) couple, Winona Ryder a worthy love interest and Anthony Michael Hall is one hell of a douche bag. Not to mention an aged Vincent Price who bows out in his very last film with style and dignity as The Inventor himself.

Whether Edward Scissorhands is Tim Burton's finest achievement is debatable but it certainly is his most altogether successful fairytale and the film of his I feel closest to. It's a creative, personal little film with a lot of style, heart, wit and warmth.  Even the most rational, cynical minds with no time for quirky Burtonized weirdness will find it hard to resist. It's a perfect kids' movie and one wishes that Burton can one day recover that kind of powerful simplicity again in later efforts.

A timeless modern classic.

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