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2/6/12

THE SNAKE PIT - REVIEW


Olivia de Havilland loses it and we sit and watch as she attempts to regain some shred of her sanity and hopefully leave her confinement to be reunited with her husband. The reasons behind her nervous breakdown are revealed little by little and although the feel of the film is, at times, very Hitchcockian, the way the subject-matter is handled makes Spellbound look like a 5 year-old child's perception of psychoanalysis rather than a legitimate take on it.

De Havilland's performance in this is one of the most complex, unpredictable and powerful I've seen in a long time and, again, makes Gregory Peck's performance in Spellbound look even poorer than it already is in comparison. She earned a well deserved Oscar nomination and so did the film.

The Snake Pit is very dark and doesn't sugar-coat much, with some scenes actually quite hard to watch and pretty daring for 1948. As larger than life as some of the characters may be, this is far more subtle and honest than, say, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but it does bear similarities with Milos Forman's film in that you really, genuinely want the main character to get out. Instead of having one clear enemy to rebel against, De Havilland's only real rival is herself and in order to leave her difficult situation she will need to make some genuine progress. Which is much, much harder than it sounds.

Fine support is offered by the rest of the cast and the whole thing is fascinating, gripping and compelling from start to finish, not to mention stylish and technically inventive. See it.

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