The Brothers Grimm

With a seemingly endless list of films to catch up on, it’s time to review a film starring the Joker and Jason Bourne. Fuck yes.

The Brothers Grimm (2005)


Terry Gilliam is overrated. There- I said it. Too many Python fans and pretentious ponces have elevated Sir Terry of Gilliam to a near-diety level. He’s good, but not that good. Plus, I don’t connect with his style. “Brazil” was good,”Twelve Monkeys” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” were brilliant, but I just don’t get it. Anyway, “The Brothers Grimm” is widely considered to be the least Gilliamesque of his films- and this is probably why I like it.

“Well, the music seems to have turned horribly French…”

Instead of the famous fraternal authors we know them as, it turns out that the Brothers Grimm, Wilhelm or “Will” (Matt Damon) and Jakob or “Jake” (Heath Ledger) are actually con artists, travelling from town to town exploiting local superstitions in order to earn a living. However, when little girls start going missing in the town of Marbaden, Wilhelm and Jakob are roped in to try and solve the mystery.

All in all, I liked the story. What particularly impressed me was the way that many of the Grimms’ fairytales were interwoven into the main plot. You don’t have to look very far for a reference to Red Riding Hood here, or Hansel and Gretel there. It’s very cleverly done and adds a nice new level to proceedings. In terms of actors, both Matt Damon and Heath Ledger are great. I didn’t expect such good chemistry between the two and was pleasantly surprised when they started playing off each other so well. Lena Headey was also pretty good as Angelika, although the strength her character was given was pushed aside near the end to make her the standard damsel in distress. Jonathan Pryce was pretty poor as the French General Vavarin Delatombe, but I get the feeling this is down to poor writing rather than acting on Pryce’s part. Actually, everyone is OK except for Peter Stormare’s painfully unfunny Cavaldi, who doesn’t do much in any scene except for speak in a ridiculous Italian accent and annoy the living fuck out of me.

There’s a great darkness to the whole film that’s really apt considering the Brothers Grimm’s tales. There’s a scene where a child gets swallowed by a horse, but not before becoming trapped in a huge spider web emanating from the proverbial horse’s mouth. “Fucking disturbing” doesn’t seem to quite cover it. If you can look past some ropey CGI effects there’s some fantastic imagination on display here.

The film in general feels very disjointed as we constantly switch from one location to another without having time to slow down and get to know the characters a bit better. Well, all the characters except Cavaldi anyway. We end up in the forest about seven or eight times during the runtime, when twice would have sufficed. By the time Will and Jake were trying to stop the evil queen, I was praying for a change of locale. Talking of the evil queen, Monica Bellucci was both beautiful and scary in the relatively small role, giving the villainess a much-needed oomph.

“All I wanted was a little order. A slice of quiche would be nice.”

As I said, I enjoyed “The Brothers Grimm”. Yes, it’s a flawed film with all the hallmarks of studio pressure rather than giving the director room to breathe, but it’s fun. It won’t set your world on fire but if you want a darkly funny, twisted fairytale film look no further.

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