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June 2010

Dorothy

cast: Carice Van Houten, Jenn Murray, David Wilmot, Ger Ryan, and Gary Lewis

director: Agnès Merlet

98 minutes (15) 2008
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Optimum DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 6/10
review by James A. Stewart

Dorothy

Ah, the small island community. Ah, the small Irish island community, the perfect backdrop in which to set a story borne out of a secret held within the confines of a close-knit, not through choice, society? Dorothy tells the tale of Dorothy Mills, a young girl who has mental problems in the opinion of some, and to others she is possessed by the devil itself.

In many ways there are simply three characters in the film. There is Dorothy - played by the excellent Jenn Murray - and her psychotherapist, Jane (Carice Van Houten), as well as the island community who rally round as a collective against Jane who believes Dorothy's problems are as a result of a mental disorder and not the outcome of being taken over by a demonic spirit. Clichés abound at this point as the backward and poorly educated locals scoff at the pretension of the big-city quack interfering in their business.

It is difficult to discuss the plot without giving too much away about this movie. Certainly, it is not so much of a horror as a psychological thriller in which the very mind of a youth is being fought over. The marketing and cover seems to suggest that this has been released with horror in mind and this really goes against the content of what is a pretty decent thriller.

Dorothy has been locked up after an incident whilst babysitting an infant and Jane is there to examine the girl, only for the locals get more and more backward as Jane gets closer to the truth. The question hanging around all the way through is whether the girl is consciously aware of her condition. And, indeed, what is the condition? Is it neurological or something less explainable?

The acting is of a pretty good standard for such a low budget movie and in particular the excellent Jenn Murray shows remarkable flexibility as she runs through a full range of human, and not so human, emotions when playing the lead role. She is ably assisted by Carice Van Houten as the shrink who believes she can save Dorothy and with whom empathy is exuded and given.

Overall the pace is about four-hour marathon, not so bad but a long way off of the elite field. There are times and scenes that appear completely superfluous to the overall end game and it felt as if director Agnès Merlet was trying to pad out the movie, which is not overly short at almost 100 minutes long.

Dorothy is a pretty decent movie; it is acted well with compelling cinematography and some real thought provoking moments. All of this is complimented by a couple of quite unexpected twists. But, the one thing I can't reconcile is; why would you let Dorothy watch your child?



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