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A dark but humorous portrait of a young girl's reaction to emotional trauma directed by Terry Gilliam. After her drug-addicted mother's overdose, city kid Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland in an Oscar-nominated role), is taken by her well-meaning father to a house he'd purchased for his now-dead mother in a remote rural area. The youngster's behaviour becomes increasingly erratic as she struggles to deal with her new, rather grim reality. The local people are a truly motley bunch with more than a few bizarre idiosyncrasies, further fuelling Jeliza's imagination.
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Do not buy the DVD. Get the Blu-ray if you can. I am not hard-of-hearing but some movies need subtitles – either because the actors or their characters don't enunciate clearly or the audio mix favours sound effects over dialogue or – as is the case here, the characters have strong Southern American accents.
First I bought a DVD version that, when I started watching I realised that although the dialogue was all in English the film was presented with over-sized French subtitles. So I searched around in the menu for English subtitles: no English subtitles; not even an option to turn off the French subtitles. Why would French viewers need permanent subtitles? Now, I like watching foreign films as much as the next person, but I don't expect to watch an English language film with French subs. It was very distracting, to be honest. So I contacted the vendor and they were most apologetic, and my money was refunded immediately. The lesson here is before you buy any DVD, study the cover carefully. If it's got French words on it you probably shouldn't buy it, unless you're French that is – or unless the film in question is 'Papillon' or 'Emmanuelle' or some other-such title.
Then I had another go. I bought the real English DVD, but after watching it for 20 minutes I realised why French viewers would need permanent subtitles. I was going to have trouble following the dialogue – and I'm English. So I looked in the menu for subtitles: no subtitles in any language on the DVD. That is odd, and it made the film unwatchable.
Finally I bought the Blu-ray Special Edition* and Hooray! Optional English subtitles! (but alas, no other languages, so if you're French, search for that French version. Anyway, as well as English subs, there's a commentary by Gilliam, a making-of documentary -or two, deleted scenes, and lots more. It's sort of what we've come to expect from regular DVDs though (apart for the high-definition), and I don't think I should have had to fork out for the Blu-ray just to understand the dialogue. Having said that, I'm glad I did. And it's a fabulous, disturbing, magical film!
(*I cannot vouch for any non-special edition version)
Tideland makes fascinating demands of us as an audience. Gilliam steals much of the glee from his grim. We often feel repulsed. Why? Because as adults, with all our neuroses and preconceptions, we can no longer regress and observe the world around us from a position of innocence. We can judge Gilliam - not harshly, I hope, for all his laudable ambitions - but we cannot judge Jeliza-Rose. Moreover, we cannot *help* Jeliza-Rose. (This is what gives Tideland its strange, elusive power, I think.) And with the final shot, tragically, you wonder if it's too late for anyone in our world to help her... should she ever return.
I watched it in the afternoon. I think I might have had trouble sleeping had I watched it at night.
Felt slightly disturbed that the lead character is a 9 year old girl, played by a 9 year old girl.
I would feel quite bad if I was her parent and had allowed her to be in this film as the subject matter is not something you'd want a 9 year old thinking about; drugs, child abuse, paedophilia, mental illness. Don't expect to be cheerful during or afterward.
The first 15 mins are really quite disturbing. It takes a while to realise that Jeff Bridges is dead in the chair.
Still he gets embalmed and becomes part of a very weird family life.
As someone else says its more like Brazil than anything else, but without any real humour.
I'm not sure I'll want to watch it again.
I am impressed by the sets, lighting and staging.
The whole cast succeeds in being very convincingly mad.
However how it got a 15 certificate is beyond me.