Monday, 24 December 2012

Hide and Seek (2005)

“I don’t wanna play with Charlie any more!”

There are two points to make before I begin. One, this film is based around one massive great big revelation so, y’ know, THERE BE SPOILERS. Two, this is the ninety-third film I’ve reviewed for this blog but only the first to feature Robert de Niro. How on Earth did that happen?

De Niro gives an extraordinary performance in a role which absolutely requires one. Like a certain part in The Usual Suspects which I shan’t spoil for those of you who haven’t seen it, it requires two performances in one. De Niro has to convince as David, the well-meaning bereaved father who’s trying to do the right thing, and as Charlie. The film structures itself around the revelation well; I, for one, didn’t guess, and was shocked. I have my doubts about basing a film so thoroughly around one big twist, if you guess the twist, the film is ruined for you. That wasn’t the case for me, though, and like all good twists I felt that the clues had been there.

The film moulds itself well around the twist, even to the point of having a character, Mr Haskins, who exists only to fulfil the role of red herring, almost to the point of parody. Aside from De Niro, though, the standout performance is from a very young Dakota Fanning, who fulfils the trope of the creepy kid with aplomb.  

The climax, in which De Niro, as Charlie, chases his daughter through the house with an axe, may be clichéd, but it was the only place to go after the revelation. And the final scene, in which one of Emily’s drawings seems to suggest that she too may have multiple personality disorder (Hollywood thriller version) is delicious.

It’s weird seeing this so soon after Drop Dead Fred; for a while, it appears as though we’re getting a very different spin on the concept of imaginary friends! It isn’t quite up there with the best, relying as it does on that one big twist, but it’s a good film nonetheless, and De Niro is superb.

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