Needful Things

Max von Sydow brings a great deal of elegance and wit to his part as the devil — posing as the proprietor of a nostalgia shop that he establishes in a small town in Maine– in this adaptation by W.D. Richter of the Stephen King novel. (Fostering feuds between the townspeople in exchange for magical goods that remind people of their pasts, he eventually goads the populace into outright warfare.) Unfortunately, the film’s elegance and wit more or less begin and end with this performance, and the pulpiness of the material, even when it veers into Christian parable, is never really transcended, despite a promising cast that also includes Ed Harris, Bonnie Bedelia, Amanda Plummer, and J.T. Walsh. The director is Fraser Heston, son of Charlton; this is his first theatrical feature. (JR)

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