‘Expertly acted […] and well told’
Gerald’s Game, 2017
Directed by: Mike Flanagan
Starring: Carla Gugino, Bruce Greenwood
Based on the novel by Stephen King, Gerald’s Game was adapted and released by Netflix and tells the events of Jessie (Carla Gugino) and Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) who decide to book a weekend away at a remote cabin to spice up their love-life with some games, involving handcuffs. And it’s those aforementioned handcuffs which cause the problem, as Jessie is tied to the bedpost but Gerald soon suffers a heart attack and dies. Tied to a bed and all alone, Jessie has to survive and escape her ordeal with a wild hungry dog lurking round the premises.
A large part of this film is just Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood on screen (Gerald is revived through her mind as insanity creeps in) and their performances are fantastic, especially Carla whose insanity is contrasted greatly with the imaginary version of her tormenting her predicament. While I think her insanity isn’t told well with regards to its writing, and I’ll come back to this point, there is no faulting Carla Gugino’s performance.
Visually, the film is beautiful, too. With some truly agonising shots of how close she is to the glass of water nearby. The dog’s biting of Gerald, the possibly real-possibly imaginary giant that comes in and stares at her and the story is also beautifully told through actions, rather than needlessly additional exposition. It’s very rare to see from films (as they tend to love a good expositional conversation), which I really appreciated.
As mentioned, though, I didn’t appreciate the seemingly rushed nature of Jessie’s fall into insanity. It almost seems as if one moment she’s angry and it cuts to a scene five hours later and we’re introduced to the visions and now Jessie’s insane. It’s so frustrating because the descent into madness can be one of the greatest storytelling journeys (it’s something that The Shining did so well as the ultimate madness is more appreciated because of the journey). I know there’s not much time that can be cut out of the film and perhaps an extra five-to-ten minutes couldn’t be afforded, but it would have been much more appreciated as everything else storytelling-wise (her troubled history with dominating men and the possibly real-possible imaginary giant that comes in). It just was let down slightly by the speediness of her descent.
While that was frustrating to see, the rest of the film is very good. Expertly acted (impressive considering the minimal cast and one-set location) and well told (for the most part), Gerald’s Game is certainly one of the better Stephen King adaptations.
Personal: * * * Acting: * * * * Writing: * * * Presentation: * * * * *