The Orphan (2009) Reviewed

Esther waits patiently in the time out KILL YOU.

Esther waits patiently in the time out KILL YOU.

Parents Peter Sarsgaard and Vera Farmiga adopt an adorably intense Russian immigrant girl after the heartbreaking stillbirth of their third child (a fairly shocking blood-soaked prologue gives us the back story). But as the ad materials explain, “there’s something wrong (very, very WRONG) with Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman).” Before long, the mysterious silk-ribbon-adorned preteen is causing all kinds of trouble… like pushing mouthy brats off of jungle gyms(!), clubbing nuns(!!), shoving her new deaf sister into traffic(!!!) and (ulp!) seducing daddy(!!!!). Where the “killer kids” formula is concerned, The Orphan does a nice job of freshening the template with lots of queasy thrills and a real corker of a twist ending that I proudly admit to guessing early (though, it didn’t diminish the impact). Farmiga is convincing –again– as the suspicious Mom. (She played a similar role in the bleak 2006 “kid from hell” Joshua- which is worth your time, incidentally.) Sarsgaard is typically good but his gullible ex-philandering father takes an awful long time to come around to the fact that Creepy-E is in dire need of a judiciously administered time-out (which begs some possibly icky questions). Much controversy was stirred by adoption advocates over TO’s ad campaign, which included the line “It must be hard to love an adopted child as much as you do your own children.” The controversy probably only succeeded in selling more tickets. If there’s any justice in Hollywood, TO will serve as the breakout film that makes Fuhrman some kind of star. Despite being a mere 12 during shooting, she really is that good. There are some canyon-sized plot holes and a fairly run-of-the-mill climax (The final minutes following the twist-end are annoyingly disappointing.),  but TO holds its own in the pantheon of terrible tyke movies like The Omen and The Bad Seed, while leaving movies like Children of the Corn and The Good Son in the dust. (I noticed that, according to IMDB, Fuhrman gets a “voice” credit in a forthcoming retread of Steven King’s CotC. ..huh.)

~ by Number5ive on September 9, 2009.

One Response to “The Orphan (2009) Reviewed”

  1. Wait, are you saying “Children of the Corn” wasn’t creepy? That freaky redheaded kid?

    Wait again, are you saying someone is actually bothering to remake a trashy bit of film like “Children of the Corn”?

    Good lord.

    And just for fun, wordpress adds “automatically generated” related posts by other authors, and I think “When germs interfere with mom’s social life” has to take the cake as being the non plus ultra of related topics.

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