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The ViewAuckland Review

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Review byMatthew Turner9/08/2006

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 118 mins

Despite moments of visual invention, this is a hard film to watch thanks to its chaotic, screechy performances and frequently repulsive imagery.

What's it all about?
Based on the novel by Mitch Cullin, Tideland stars Jodelle Ferland as Jeliza-Rose, a 12 year-old girl who retreats into her own fantasy world when left in the care of her junkie parents (Jennifer Tilly and Jeff Bridges). This is a world in which squirrels talk, fireflies have names and she only has the heads of four dolls for company.

With her mother dead and her father slipping into oblivion, the reality of her grandmother's isolated farmhouse becomes an increasingly disturbing fairyland for Jeliza-Rose. Things don't improve when she meets her neighbours: scary one-eyed Dell (Janet McTeer) and her bonkers brother Dickens (Brendan Fletcher), who's obsessed with catching a shark that supposedly lives on the railway tracks.

The Bad
Fans of Terry Gilliam are always hoping that the studios will leave him alone and allow him to make the kinds of films he wants to make. With Tideland, they've finally got their wish, only the results are sadly disappointing.

Tideland bears comparison to Gilliam's adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in that both films are based on novels and both films combine increasingly chaotic narratives with bleached-out cinematography, grotesque characters and disturbing imagery. The difference is that Fear and Loathing had Depp's compelling performance at its centre, while Tideland increasingly feels like it's spinning out of control.

The Worst
The main problem with Tideland is that it's impossible to feel anything for the characters, particularly McTeer and Dickens and their wildly over-the-top grotesques. Jodelle Ferland gives a good performance but Jeliza-Rose becomes incredibly annoying after a while and you just want to yell at her to shut up.

Worth seeing?
There are some impressive visual moments but ultimately this is like watching an annoying child running around and shrieking about her imaginary friends for two hours.

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Content updated: 26/01/2020 08:38

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