Mary Reilly

Stephen Frears directs the umpteenth version of the Jekyll and Hyde story, this time Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of a novel by Valerie Martin that recounts the tale from the viewpoint of Jekyll’s maid (Julia Roberts). This is a creepy and upsetting mood piece, with lots of fog and dank, evocative Victorian sets; though there’s some awkwardness in finding an American Jekyll and Hyde (both John Malkovich) and what sounds like either an American southern or Irish maid (in Julia Roberts’s wavering performance) inexplicably surrounded by English people and settings, Malkovich otherwise gives an effective performance, making Hyde positively lewd with innuendo. Too bad the overreaching script has to go after effects recalling Alien, but as a stylistic exercise this still has its chills. Others in the cast include George Cole, Michael Gambon, Kathy Staff, and Glenn Close. (JR)

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