The Raven – a review

Somehow managed to track down a draft/copy of this review from the archives –

S Elk-Cusack Poe
Cusack’s Poe – artwork by S Elk©

The Raven – a review

The Raven Movie opens on Edgar Allan Poe, played by John Cusack, leaning back, gazing upwards, staring at a full moon…, the shot collapses into a murder scene and events rapidly gather pace drawing you deeply into the writers’ mind and world.

A love letter to Poe, the film is populated with exquisite characters, costumes and sets creating a platform to play out the author’s horror stories and poems.

Cusack’s performance brings a wealth of compassion and empathy to the character he embodies. A quality the actor brings to most of his roles evidences deep research, and results in a masterful study in awkward vulnerability, showcasing his character’s imperfections.

In the actor’s previous movies – Say Anything, Being John Malkovitch, High Fidelity and Gross Point Blank, Cusack portrays the vulnerable anti hero hero, investigating humanity and awkwardness. In his works and portrayals of characters, he often seems to leave enough room for a U turn, a glimpse of the possibility of redemption. This, or is it Cusack’s uncanny ability to get the audience to relate to and empathize with his flawed characters?

Cusack said [on twitter recently] “I went to school on him [Poe] and if the flick gets peoples reading him again it will be worth it” and “Poe was a genuine american genius and freak and I was proud to play him..” and The Raven is testament to a well researched interpretation in which the actor goes all the way in, providing insight into Poe’s world, how his wife died of TB, and how he found or imagined that he found love again. The movie’s story line weaves themes from several of Poe’s works.

The Raven’s central characters include Cusack as Poe, Alice Eve as Emily – his real or imagined love and Luke Evans as detective Fields, a character based on Dupin from Poe’s detective genre. Cusack’s performance is breathtaking. as he embodies a man devastated by the loss of love, fighting against time to save her from a morbid death, willing to trade his life for hers.

The Raven provides a sordid take on the power of thought, words and media to create blueprints for reality. In “Raven” Poe echoes this notion saying he would have concentrated more on erotica if he had realized the impact of his depraved and dark imagery. The viewer literally goes on a journey where Poe becomes a character in his own fictional works.

The Raven, is a fictional work based on Poe’s inner world, where the author becomes a suspect in a series of copy cat murders based on his writings. The movie is less of an explanation of Poe’s demise and more of an exploration of his inner world, work, and life.

Releases in USA and Canada April 27, and South Africa on May 4 2012,
Rating: Hard R
Genre: Thriller
Run time: 111 minutes
Director: James McTeigue
Writers: Ben Livingstone and Hannah Shakespeare
Edgar Allan Poe: John Cusack
Emily Hamilton: Alice Eve
Detective Fields: Luke Evans



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