Mary Reilly - * * 1/2*

Mary Reilly is a spooky thriller that doesn’t match the rapid pace of many of today’s thrill-a-second horrorfests, but outclasses them in the long run. Julia Roberts portrays the title character, the timid chambermaid of one Dr. Henry Jekyll (John Malkovich). All of the action is told through her point of view, as the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde slowly unravels before her, and she becomes romantically interested in both men. Malkovich’s portrayal of Jekyll and Hyde is done with minimalist makeup, and is mainly an internal change of personality. Although he does an admirable job, the downside is that the two men look too much alike, and resultingly the characters who don’t spot this seem nearly blind. Roberts is made to look rather plain and unassuming in her role. She doesn’t show much variety in her character, and seems rather blank most of the time. Glenn Close hams it up as the madam of a house of ill repute frequented by Mr. Hyde. But the true star of this film is the moody atmosphere. Fog and shadows abound, lending an air of the gothically mysterious. Director Stephen Frears handles the shocks quite well, pacing the film evenly, so that while never at a furious pace, the move never bogs down either. Mary Reilly is not for everyone. Those expecting a traditional horror film may be disappointed. However, for those with an open mind, and a taste for the eerie, Mary Reilly may well be one to watch.

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