Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine's Days with Daniel Radcliffe

If you're getting a sense of deja vu from this post -- and, let's be honest, you're probably not -- then it might be because I wrote a post this time last year called "Valentine's Days with Zoe Kazan."

That post was to acknowledge the funny "trend" that saw me watching a movie starring Zoe Kazan on two straight Valentine's Days. In 2014 it was Ruby Sparks (for my third time) and last year it was What If.

If we can stay in the suspect arena of flimsy trends, this year Kazan is handing the baton off to her What If co-star, Daniel Radcliffe. This year we dropped the romance theme for our February 14th viewing, but we still scheduled a viewing, and it was the 2012 horror The Woman in Black -- which also stars Radcliffe.

The romance theme was abandoned, though Woman in Black does cover matters of the heart, in that it deals with Radcliffe's character pining over the death of his wife in childbirth (though it was a good six or seven years earlier), as well as other characters broken hearted over the wrenching loss of family members. But speaking of flimsy, that's a pretty flimsy connection to Valentine's Day. What can I say. It's not always that interesting to be predictable in your choices. (In fact, if you put it that way, it never is.)

Interestingly, though, its release was more or less timed to Valentine's Day, on February 3rd of 2012 in the U.S., and a week later in the U.K.

Even more interesting is the character the then 22-year-old Radcliffe was playing.

I said earlier that Radcliffe's character now has a six- or seven-year-old son as a byproduct of his wife's death, which would have made him, oh, 15 or 16 when he got her pregnant. That would have been unusual even in the early 20th century, when the story takes place.

But what makes it all the more unusual is that Radcliffe came of age playing one of the most famous boys of 21st century cinema, Harry Potter. In fact, he'd only just finished playing Potter seven months earlier when the final installment of that series was released. The choice to cast him as the father of a not-very-young boy seems odd given that history, unless Radcliffe just wanted to do whatever possible to distance himself from Potter as quickly as possible. Which, to be fair, is something we've definitely seen with kids who grew up playing a signature role.

It's the first but not nearly the only bad decision in The Woman in Black. Although I will cop to getting the chills from this movie from time to time, they were the cheapest type of chills imaginable, ones that left me feeling guilty even as I could not deny their physical actuality. This is about as boringly straightforward as horror movies get, though I refer primarily to the scare mechanisms and general milieu of the story. The plot itself was pretty convoluted, which serves only as a further detractor from the proceedings.

If I want to keep this baton-handing trend going next year, I guess I'll have to see something with one of Radcliffe's Woman in Black co-stars. I don't know, Ciaran Hinds?

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