Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Malachi's Cove

(Henry Herbert, 1974)
A kids' movie this awash in poverty and grief is virtually obliged to turn to mush in the third act, and sure enough Veronica Quilligan's scrappy young seaweed collector falls in love with bratty nemesis David Bradley, overcoming the petty prejudices of her 19th-century village and struggling free of the memory of her drowned parents. This predictable turn of events is brutally mismanaged by Herbert, who encourages Bradley to act like a total unredeemed snot for a full hour before suddenly wrenching a halo on to his creepy little head. This is doubly unforgivable given the laziness of the pacing and construction, undermining its sense of place and pathos with repetitive, static interactions and way too much wandering around the English countryside. Quilligan is on screen for almost the entire film so it's impressive that she doesn't wear; especially when working in tandem with wheelchair-bound grandpa Donald Pleasance, she lightens the bleakness somewhat, but she can't do anything about the tedium.

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