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Film Review: Inert, Ineffective ‘The Moth Diaries’ with Lily Cole
CHICAGO – Mary Harron’s “The Moth Diaries” is a perfect teaching tool for potential filmmakers. It is proof of two oft-forgotten rules of cinema: 1. Not every successful piece of work in one medium should be adapted to another (or not all good books make good films). 2. Even talented directors can be the wrong fit for the material. This movie is a mess in so many ways that promising young actresses and a typically-intriguing director get sucked into its almost-complete failure. There are clear signs of what intrigued everyone about the source material but none of it translated to quality cinema.
2002’s “The Moth Diaries” by Rachel Klein was clearly a blend of adolescent angst and gothic literature – not the easiest mash-up to translate to the big screen. The very title implies something that requires a first-person narrator, someone who can convey their complex thoughts via the written word in a way that a filmmaker simply cannot do. And such is the biggest problem with Harron’s adaptation – we never know the lead in the same way we would if we read her diary and so the distant approach to the storytelling makes it easier to see the serious flaws of the filmmaking. Those incredibly volatile days when a teenage girl comes to terms with her own family history, her changing friendships, her sexuality, and more make for interesting fiction but often come apart on their way to the big screen.
|Read Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Moth Diaries” in our reviews section.|
The girl at the center of “The Moth Diaries” is Rebecca (Sarah Bolger), something of a black hole at the film’s core because we never know quite enough about her to make her story engaging. She responds to the mystery around her but Rebecca is pretty bland as a character and viewer lack of interest in her due to the lack of development or personality on Harron’s part as a writer and director is one of the film’s many flaws. We never get to know Rebecca.
What do we know about her? We know that she’s loyal to her friend and classmate Lucie (Sarah Gadon) to the point that her affection for her starts to approach the sexual. Is Rebecca in love with Lucie as more than a friend? She’s at that age where girls are losing their virginity or falling for their hot new teacher (played by Scott Speedman) but she seems more concerned about Lucie than anyone else in her world. Why so concerned? Well, the new girl who seems to be stealing Lucie’s time, the mysterious Ernessa (Lucy Cole), might be a vampire.
The Moth Diaries
Photo credit: IFC Films