THiNKFilm presents Tideland. Written by Toni Grisoni and Terry Gilliam. Based on the novel by Mitch Cullin. 121 minutes. Rated R for bizaare (sic) and disturbing content, including drug use, sexuality, and gruesome situations â€” all involving a child, and some language.
Release date: Feb. 27, 2007
Jodelle Ferland.. ..Jeliza-Rose/Voices of Dolls
Janet McTeer.. ..Dell
Brendan Fletcher.. ..Dickens
Jeff Bridges.. ..Noah
Jennifer Tilly.. ..Queen Gunhilda
Terry Gilliam has always been a director surrounded by controversy. From his battle with Universal over the studio’s editing of Brazil and the financial disaster that was The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen to the film that was never made but captured in the heartbreaking documentary Lost In La Mancha, Gilliam has always fought to protect his “artistic integrity.” In Gilliam’s latest opus he chose an intimate subject keeping the budget small enough to allow him to do exactly what he wanted and with no studio interference. What he created was Tideland, an adaptation of the novel written by Mitch Cullin and one the most disturbing/touching films of 2006.
Tideland is the story of ten-year-old Jeliza-Rose, played immaculately by Jodelle Ferland. So many people have raved about Abigail Breslin’s performance in Little Miss Sunshine, while Ferland has been completely overlooked with a performance that rivals, if not betters Breslin’s. Jeliza-Rose lives with her two drug addled parents (Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly) who have her cook up their heroin shots. When her mother dies, her father, Noah, takes her to her grandmother’s old house in the middle of nowhere. Soon after arriving Noah falls into a deep heroin induced “vacation” from which he never wakes. Now Jeliza-Rose is completely alone save for her tattered dolls heads – her only friends. This solitude doesn’t last long, however, as she soon meets Dell (Janet McTeer) and her mentally challenged twenty-year-old brother Dickens (Brendan Fletcher). They become her new family to terrifying results. Dell is extremely disturbed and the relationship between Jeliza-Rose and Dickens begins to grow beyond inappropriate.
This film invokes very strong reactions; most the film feeling very uncomfortable. Much of this is due to the audience’s preconceived notions of what they feel a young girl dealing with her parent’s death should be, versus how Jeliza-Rose actually reacts to the situation. When her mother dies she’s excited that she’ll get to eat her chocolate. The other reason the film is uncomfortable is you’re never quite sure where it is going. Dell has moments where she’s kind and motherly, then minutes later she’s one of the scariest villains you’ve ever seen. Very uncomfortable moments are followed by joyous, relaxing scenes taking the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster ride they have no control of.
Many people aren’t going to like Tideland. Even Gilliam would say so. Many of the issues dealt within are nauseating, the embalming and preserving of human bodies for one. Tideland, at times, borders on horror but never pays off the way a horror film would. Which is just facet to the awkwardness. However, if you’re willing to be taken on Jeliza-Rose’s descent into madness, if your willing to get past your own hang ups of what is acceptable and what is not, then you will be in for a rare treat.
What really sells this film is the acting. The entire supporting cast is fantastic but there are two people that are really remarkable: Jodella Ferland and Brendan Fletcher. Ferland is amazing, not only does she make Jeliza-Rose completely believable and real, but she is the voice for all her doll heads as well, making each them a full character in their own right. As for Fletcher, not since Dustin Hoffman has an actor’s performance of a mentally challenged person been so convincing. Both characters, their relationship walks the fine balance of disturbing and touching.
Gilliam has proved numerous times that he is one of our finest directors. While this may not be his best film, it’s certainly an impressive outing that shows us that he’s still got it and leaves us wanting to see what strange world he bring to us next.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: 8
FINAL SCORE: 8.5
Jeliza-Rose and Dickens “swimming” through the brush.
The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen 1.85:1. As one expects from any Gilliam film, the cinematography is breathtaking and the transfer her is wonderful. You couldn’t ask for a better picture.
DVD Lounge exclusive update!: Tideland DVD technical update. It has been brought to our attention here in the DVD Lounge by certain, shall we say, invested parties that the aspect ratio listed here is false. While the proper presentation for this film should in fact be 2.35:1, it is in fact anamorphic full-frame 1.77:1. Thank you for your time.
The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 The sound here is fantastic as well. The sound is full and really utilizes the 5.1.
An Introduction from Terry Gilliam: This is a short intro warning the viewer that he may not like the film. Gilliam suggests that since the film is told from the innocent point of view of a 10-year-old girl, that you should forget everything you’ve learned as an adult and be taken on the ride of the film. And laugh.
Commentary with Gilliam and writer Tony Grisoni: This is a pretty good commentary. They provide some good insight into the making of the film. They spend most the time making fun of the critics who hated the film. Gilliam also keeps insisting he’s never seen a Hitchcock film although he’s referred to this film as “Alice In Wonderland meets Psycho.”
Getting Gilliam â€” A Film by Vincenzo Natali: This is a really good making-of showing all the struggles during production. Including the processing lab destroying a day’s work. The director is obviously a huge fanboy and basically admits it right off the bat. However, that doesn’t’ seem to take away from the over all production.
Getting Gilliam with Gilliam and Natali Commentary: Here we get some more interesting words from Gilliam, however he spend zero time talking about the documentary. He spends his time, instead, talking about the raising of the funds to produce Tideland and then selling it to a distributor.
Making Of Tideland Pretty standard making-of where everyone talks about how great everyone is. Nothing much is revealed here.
Deleted Scenes with Gilliam Commentary: Gilliam walks us through these deleted scenes and tells us why they were cut. Pretty interesting stuff. The scenes actually do add to the film and most were cut due to time constraints.
Filming Green Screen with optional Gilliam Commentary:
Interview with Gilliam: Gilliam has a very fascinating mind and is always enjoyable to listen to because he always seems to have something interesting to say.
Interview with producer Jeremy Thomas: While not very exciting this interview gives a different side of Gilliam, which is pretty interesting.
The Inside Pulse:
This is a fantastic DVD. Tideland is a strong emotional film that, if you get it, is a dark world you will enjoy returning to. And if a great film isn’t enough, you’re given 2 discs of great special features. Terry Gilliam is a phenomenal director and the features here really allow the artist to shine.