Magazine article Screen International

'Victor Frankenstein': Review

Magazine article Screen International

'Victor Frankenstein': Review

Article excerpt

Dir. Paul McGuigan. US/UK. 2015. 109mins.

This bracingly gruesome revisionist spin on Mary Shelley's classic gothic novel has no truck with Victorian propriety - it's all about visceral thrills. Think steampunk gross-out; a version of the Frankenstein story which brings to the fore the body horror which lurks at the heart of the book. Early on, there's a sequence featuring James McAvoy siphoning 18 years worth of accumulated pus out of Daniel Radcliffe's back. It's a staggeringly repulsive moment. But then director Paul McGuigan further twists the knife, adding a gleeful and horrible punchline to the scene. With this moment, he sets out his store.

The casting of James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe as, respectively, the idealistic but deranged scientist Frankenstein and his loyal sidekick Igor will ensure considerable audience interest. But while the film should earn plaudits for its visual impact and unflinchingly macabre approach, the fact that the character development plays second place to the spectacle may hamper the film's prospects in the long term

We are introduced to Radcliffe's character before he becomes 'Igor'. Initially, he is a nameless hunchback, enslaved to a ruthless circus owner and bullied relentlessly by the other performers. But he is also the circus doctor – an autodidact anatomist who fills his spare moments, when not being booted in the behind and dunked in buckets of water, crafting detailed pen drawings of the human body's inner workings. McGuigan animates these drawings, laying them over the characters and turning them into living scientific specimens. Igor is particularly interested in the circus trapeze artist Lorelei (Jessica Brown), both as a perfect physiological specimen and as an unrequited romantic ideal.

When Lorelei is critically injured, the hunchback medical genius meets the man who will give him a new life. …

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