Red Riding Hood has a woman’s touch, but it ain’t enough

Red Riding Hood – 2011

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke

Starring Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie, Virginia Madsen, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Lukas Haas

Written by David Johnson based on the Brothers Grimm tale

Catherine Hardwicke must have high standards.  She declined to direct Twilight: New Moon, which then made about a gazillion dollars.  It was for artistic reasons, she stated, as the timeline they gave her for filming was too tight to do an effective job.  Not much information is available about the making of Red Riding Hood.  My guess is that she did not take a ton of time to create this one, though.

There are touches in Red Riding Hood that show a deft, delicate, woman’s touch.  There are plenty of shots in the mist, and the eyes of all the characters are really clear.  The violence  effectively eludes any amount of gore, and the women clutch their chest to show despair.  Julie Christie is given free rein, and she does much with it.  Her character has an elusiveness to it that far outpaces anyone else in the film.  This is, no doubt the effect of Hardwicke.

Who to blame, then, for the horrid performances of seasoned veteran Gary Oldman, who is so bad as to be unwatchable?  How about Amanda Seyfried?  As wonderful as she was in Mamma Mia, she has had a series of clunkers, from Jennifer’s Body, Dear John to Chloe.  After one decent film, Letters To Juliet, it’s back to the junk. This indicates an inability to pick good material, to be sure, but her range is increasingly suspect as well.  There are a couple of young actors (Fernandez and Irons) who do a decent job of looking earnest, but that’s not saying much.  The acting here is wooden as a buffalo nickel.

Then there is story.  Adapted quite loosely from the Grimm Brother’s version of the tale, this one has a Grandma, alright.  And a wolf.  This wolf is a werewolf, though and the imitation is of its human form.  This is a film one can try not to predict, but there will be little success in this for the sober viewer.

The effects are jumpy, and the werewolves have no sense of weight on the screen.  When stopped, they do look like wolves, but a wolf could do that.  This is not to say it’s a collection of stick figures.  This is a passage of time, and not much more.

(**1/2 out of *****)

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