I was actually thinking about postponing this until… next week, maybe. But what the hell? Let’s do this! I’m going to write about Crimson Peak today, a Guillermo del Toro film, one I’ve been waiting to see since the day I heard the first whispers about it. Let me tell you this: there will be spoilers here. If you haven’t watched the film yet, do so. I recommend it.
There are many articles I haven’t read and interviews I haven’t seen, simply because I didn’t feel the need to look for them. Yet I know where I can find them and I’m considering buying the book as well, so there might be a second part to this article one day. I’ve waited to see the film (and I’ll return to it) for three reasons: Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, Jessica Chastain. It was one of those times when the actors brought me to the cinema… I couldn’t wait for October 2015.
I did enjoy the story, but the cast drew me to it. My issue with the plot is that everything felt too rushed. I would have liked to see a flashback with the Sharpe siblings as children, for example. Or something more to link the past to the present. Ah, but we have the ghosts, a constant reminder that things are far from right, that sometimes it’s too easy to find yourself trapped in the place where one should find affection and shelter. They look terrifying, but their intention is to protect, to help our heroine. They are always there, even when they are not seen or when their shape can only be guessed in the shadows.
Ghosts are real, that much I know. I’ve seen them all my life, we hear the protagonist say. But the ghosts are only a part of the story, a symbol you cannot ignore. We’re watching a gothic romance, one where we follow Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), a young American writer. Her life, what we see and what we guess, firmly turns towards tragedy once she meets Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister, Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). Soon, Edith and Thomas marry and move to Allerdale Hall, except… there’s no happiness to be found there.
A house as old as this one becomes, in time, a living thing. It starts holding onto things… keeping them alive when they shouldn’t be. Some of them are good; some of them bad… Some should never be spoken about again.
There are many secrets at Crimson Peak, dark and bloody as the place itself. There’s quite a bit of foreshadowing, so I’d say that viewers will guess how the film might end not long after the characters are introduced. But don’t expect the plot to give all its secrets away so easily. Love, mystery and madness are intertwined, and the three actors shape the characters in a way that will make the viewers want to learn more about them. What drives them? What happened to them in the past?
It’s a beautiful film, I’ve got to say this. Scary, yes, but incredibly beautiful. The soundtrack (especially Edith’s theme) is charming. It’s the first thing I looked for after I saw Crimson Peak. It holds so much sadness and does what I think every good soundtrack should do: it completes the story, adds tension and hints towards what lies behind the characters’ actions. The costumes are also gorgeous and the mansion… well, it takes your breath away. I wonder if it was left standing once the filming was done. How marvelous it would be to visit it and admire its details in person.
There’s one more thing I want to write about: butterflies. I’ve seen it before, this play of light and darkness and the characters which are more at home in one part or another. We also have this here, but it goes hand in hand with another pair: the butterfly and the moth, Edith and Lucille. Both symbols are perfect for these ladies. Edith is a woman who belongs to the day, beautiful, delicate. Lucille, on the other hand, is quite the opposite. Everything about her is dark and cold, from the way she dresses, to her attitude and thoughts. Even her love brings death with it.
Fortunately, the characters have more to offer. Edith has the strength to fight for her life and survives, while Lucille… I love Jessica Chastain in this part, she’s perfect for darker roles… Lucille is the most threatening presence in the film: she’s mad, incredibly sad and lonely. So where do we place Thomas Sharpe? Somewhere in the middle, I’d say. His love for Edith came as a sort of redemption, but he never actually gets the chance to be alive and free. It turns out one can leave Crimson Peak, if the right price is paid.
The ending made me wonder what happened after we saw the Sharpe siblings for the last time. I honestly cannot imagine a happy ending for our characters, it wouldn’t fit the rest of the story. But that’s fine, the circle closed and the viewers are allowed to return and uncover the secrets left untold.
So… what did you think of the film? What did you like or dislike about it?
by Elena Atudosiei