Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well Acted, But Confusing If You've Not Read the Book, 30 Sep 2011
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This review is from: Island [DVD] (DVD)
Like most people, I bought this film because of the actor Colin Morgan, but this did not affect my opinion of the story or the film as a whole. I ordered the book by Jane Rogers and devoured it in a day since it was such a deep, well written book - and so my expectations for this film, I have to admit, were pretty high.
The film is made by ammeters, and this unfortunately shows. Although most scenes were very real, polished and flawless, other's were needlessly confusing or out of place. Some viewers may be reminded of the cult horror film "May," because of the way it is edited; with a mixture of long drawn-out, socially awkward scenes with minimal editing applied to them, and some sense edited very quickly to show the fragile mental state of Nikki (the lead character).
Having said this, the acting is phenomenal, especially on Natalie Press' part. The character of Nikki Black is a deep and complex one. Her warped thought processes are what makes up the majority of the book, and without any internal narration from her in the film, this was an extremely tricky part to play. She does so flawlessly. I cannot think of anyone one else who would have played this part better. And of course, Colin Morgan was perfect. Anyone reading the book would realise that the part of Calum was perfect for him. (He plays him rather endearingly, with subtly and minimal angst, which was a great relief.)
There is, however, one scene that is almost irredeemable in the eyes of a purest. One of the main controversies of the book was the slightly incestuous relationship between Nikki and Calum, and although there were moments of great uneasy reading in the book, Rogers did not go so far as the film, which does indicate rape at a point. The book did not. And the `big reveal' was needlessly different also... but again, this will only annoy the purists.
A good, atmospheric film, with some brilliant acting and nice animations -- and although I did want to immediately re-watch the film after seeing it the first time - it will not be an instant favourite.
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 May 2013 23:34:08 BDT
Last edited by the author on 21 May 2013 23:37:52 BDT
Sunny Mosley says:
Dear Hope This Helps: I respectfully disagree with your assessment that the film indicates rape. Even though I had not yet read the book, I never felt that Calum really went that far. Even though he was certainly aroused, it simply wasn't in his character to be forceful. I know the fade to seashore many times does indicate a consummation ... however, in this case I just felt that this was different and that it did not. Later, I read the book and was glad to see my impression was correct. I kind of wish this had been made more clear in the film. However, I did love the film and felt Natalie's portrayal was very true to her character, and Colin's portrayal was exquisite.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 00:38:48 BDT
That was my opinion when I first watched it. However in the screen writer and director's audio commentary they state that they wished to imply that she was raped (if my memory serves me well).

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 01:28:58 BDT
Sunny Mosley says:
Oh, my ... well, if that was the case, it does seem out of character to me. Would you agree, the book does not so indicate?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 04:27:19 BDT
Sunny Mosley says:
Another thought: There were many scenes with Nikki as a young girl experiencing fright at the sight of a doorknob turning in the night. Could it be that the commentary was indicating that during her several foster care situations she had been molested as a young child ... more reason for her to resent her mother's giving her away? If this is the case, then the incident occurred in her past and was not connected to Calum's advances. He approached her so gently, it seems hard to believe that he would become violent.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 14:38:22 BDT
I would agree, yes :( Please listen to the audio commentary and see if you think I've got the wrong end of the stick.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 22:00:07 BDT
Sunny Mosley says:
I will do that this evening and send another post your way tomorrow. I am indeed interested in what they have to say. I hadn't noticed commentary on my disc ... so will have to check for that. In case it's not there, is there an excerpt of it somewhere ... maybe on YouTube?

In reply to an earlier post on 22 May 2013 23:08:08 BDT
Thank you :) If it's not on your DVD or on YouTube already I'll try and put a short clip up myself.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 May 2013 16:54:34 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 May 2013 22:48:07 BDT
Sunny Mosley says:
Hello Hope ... My disc did have the commentary ... I simply hadn't noticed it before. One woman was easy for me to understand, the other not so much. My ear isn't as practiced at accents as yours may be. This is the gist of the comments. At the end of the narrative, I lose the last sentence or two because of the accents and the overriding dialogue from the film. However, I think this is enough to resolve our questions. The quotation marks aren't really accurate as I didn't get it verbatim ... but to set aside their comments from mine, I am using them. (Former English teachers, forgive me!)

These are the comments:
"This scene has caused a lot of controversy. Is the implication that she has been raped? Is the implication that she hasn't been" Has she fought him off? What exactly has happened? And, including the way it was written, it was deliberately ambiguous, and less ambiguous in the film. Unequivocal in the fade out and the continuing of the sound. We didn't want it to be very explicit. Something was going on and you didn't need to see it. What we wanted to show was how far Nikki would go in order to get Calum in ... reaction ..." This is where I lost it. The comment later is that she is still manipulating Calum.

Were it not for the use of the word "unequivocal", I would have thought they were leaving it ambiguous ... which would have been my preference. So this was not the answer I was looking for. But, it seems you may have been right.

It would seem enough to leave it as it was in the book: the fluid was on her jeans and not in her.

First "rape" implies a violent intent, and there was none here. Second, it also implies the female is innocent, here it was the male who was used. So, I guess ambiguous pretty well describes it.

What do you think?

In reply to an earlier post on 31 May 2013 15:53:59 BDT
So sorry I left you waiting over a week, I've only just seen this. But yes, I have a very keen ear for accents but I feel that you've covered the main points in this. When I first read the book I had a few friends read it and we discussed that scene (as it was written) at length, and I was the only one who believed that she hadn't been raped. Everyone else said "Her reaction was a little extreme, don't you think, if he hadn't? He must have. Yes, it's ambiguous, but you just don't want it to be unpleasant."
Also, in the actress' body language it is very clear that she is "leading him on," using her body to persuade him to leave with her - but that doesn't mean it wasn't rape. Even if she is using him psychologically. I don't believe she wanted to have sex with him, which is quite clear in the way she reacts to his physical advances "Get off, get off."
But as you rightly said, ambiguous is pretty much it. Nikki's character is extremely complex, so she isn't going to react "like a rape victim." Calum is victimized by her in so many other ways so there is no clean cut way of looking at these two complex characters and saying who hurts who, who damages who.
This isn't a story about abuse or incest between siblings. Ultimately, in the book, the coming together of these two characters is a positive thing. Rape is such a loaded, trigger word which I feel has distracted us from what is really important in this film and in this story. In the end, this ambiguous detail doesn't matter.

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Jun 2013 17:40:41 BDT
Sunny Mosley says:
Nice to see you! I am enjoying our discussion. One might consider that her reaction was so extreme because she knew she had deliberately pushed him. She does know he is her brother. She probably thought she had control of the situation ... but at some point she did not. The guilt lies at her door ... for herself and for this innocent boy who has no idea what she is up to. I don't remember reading the phrase "get off", and have loaned my copy of the book to a friend. I would need to replay my dvd to see if it is there ... but that is not my recollection. I remember her "finally" saying Calum this isn't right (though not particularly firmly); I think the last word I heard her say before the fade to ocean was simply his name.

We are in accord about "rape" being a loaded word. That is why I don't like it in this instance. Perhaps I am wrong, but have always felt that it implied violence ... a strong refusal that is overcome by force. That isn't the case here ... not in the movie ... and not in the book. I also agree with you that the bond they are forming is a positive thing ... the really important part of the story. I particularly like the scene at the end of the film where she places her arms around him and strokes his arms and his hair ... the big sister comforting her younger brother. That had a nice feel to it.
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