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Film Three Stars

I was looking forward to seeing Joshua, clips I'd seen had been promising, and I like both Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga, and the film featured something I really love in horror films, creepy children.

However this isn't a horror, and it's something that struck me straight away, this is a thriller and a well crafted one at that.

Joshua.jpgJoshua is a single child, and a highly intelligent one at that. When his parents have another child he seems to become slightly jealous of the attention that she is getting, as any child does, but he begins to take it to extremes, and we discover that he's far from an ordinary child.

A message to my friend Lee, let this be a warning to you. Perhaps it's better not to have two kids!

The creepiness of Joshua was built well, from the early moments of his strange and slightly removed behaviour to his actions later on in the film where his actions have escalated. This escalation of his behaviour and actions is portrayed really well. There's no feeling that we've leapt too far in Joshua's mind, in fact it always seems as though we're a step behind him.

That aspect of the film was really well done, and the actor chosen to play the boy, Jacob Kogan is just brilliant. At no point was the character taken too far and made to be so demonised that he felt more like an Omen child than a normal one. Here Joshua doesn't have paranormal powers, just the mind of a very sick individual.

The storyline with the mother, played by Vera Farmiga, was well developed too. You could feel the slow deterioration of the character and it felt like it could be very natural. Farmingo played the character really well, and she's an actress I'm really warming to.

Nunu, or Sam Rockwell's character's mother was well played too by Celia Weston, and the whole religious plot line causing conflict in the family was well utilised in the script, particularly when it came to a head. However it did seem to falter and was left hanging. In my eyes this seemed like an excellent part of the story to bring forward and allow for more conflict in the family.

There seemed to be a few little plot threads that were taken so far and just left. For instance the warning signs of the hamsters dying at school from some fungal infection, and then the reflection of that in both the dog and the paranoia of the father later on in the film as he checked fluids at the sink.

Now there was enough of a connection for me to make it mentally in the story, enough of a hint to place that seed of doubt and possibility in my head, but you would think that the characters would have followed those possibilities a little more.

Another dropped ball seems to have been in the latter half when the father's paranoia and actions raise up a level. My first reactions would have been to start finding out everything out about the child, search his room, etc., and perhaps even send him away immediately. However the father doesn't seem to think of this and almost immediately his paranoia leaps forward.

So although there was a mixture of both plot threads that seemed to have been passed over or could have been made more of, and that there were some character decisions that were out of place and seemed rather awkward, these were just a few moments and irked more than they affected the film.

Something I was surprised about though was how Sam Rockwell felt during the early part of the film, for me he just didn't fit the character as well as I thought he would have. It is interesting that he really did fit the later character, when his life is more ragged and he's feeling stressed and more confused, but in the first half he doesn't fit well in the character for me.

His character seems very edgy and slightly rougher than the characters around him. It's more than seeming out of place and at times he just doesn't feel right in the role. Yet by the end of the film he's totally at home in the character, perhaps it's because we are seeing him in more unhinged and on the edge roles.

However these aren't major film spoilers, and the build up of the child is very well done. Tension appears early on in the film and remains at pretty much a constant throughout, but it's later on where it really begins to ramp up. What is done well is the battle of minds between the father and son, this is where the audience and the character are very well disarmed and then hit back with the tension once again.

Something that keeps the tension going well is the music, using a repetitive theme that was played earlier in the film by Joshua and marking a distinct change in direction for the character. It was subtlety done and it never overpowered the film but you would keep noticing the theme popping up at key moments.

Overall it's an enjoyable film and the final payoff is well created. I might have preferred it taken a little step further and perhaps the final moment delivered in a different way, but all in all it was a strong moment.

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2007 News and Reviews
UK IMDB Film Details



I've been really surprised by the positive feedback for this film. It didn't look particularly interesting but I may have to give it the once over after reading a number of fairly positive reviews.


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