Alun Pughe 11/10/2006
Tideland, the new film by Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas director Terry Gilliam, has finally had its ridiculously limited cinema release (in fact Gilliam himself jokingly suggested that fans that wanted to see his latest film should download it if they could “as long as the quality is good”) and it is with mixed feelings that I say the result is... interesting.
Made apparently at the same time as The Brothers Grimm because Gilliam felt all his creativity was being smothered by the all powerful Weinstein Brothers, Tideland is the story of a little girl (Silent Hill's Jodelle Ferland)'s experience in an isolated house after her parents (Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly) die of drug overdoses. Blocking out the tragedy of her parents' deaths the film follows her flights of fantasy as she plays with her dolls and the lobotomised adult from the nearest house.
Absolutely beautifully shot in Super 35mm and including all the usual visual craziness you'd expect from a Gilliam film (talking squirrels, a villain with one eye and close ups seen through fish eye lenses) Tideland certainly looks the part and the script is at times fantastic. The acting, especially that of Ferland, is exceptional (which is lucky as she makes up about 90% of the film's dialogue) and the Alice in Wonderland parallels sadly charming.
However the bleakness of the story is so intense it over shadows a hugely important element of other Gilliam works: fun. In fact what I felt was absent from The Brothers Grimm is here in abundance as if it was one film separated in two, both lacking in the traits of the missing twin. As a result Tideland was at times rather a chore, albeit a very beautiful one, and though by no means a bad film I am reluctant to actually recommend it to anyone not a Gilliam fan.