For the past few days I’ve been watching mass quantities of movies. I seemed to be in one of my weird movie phases. I try desperately to find good ones, but tv being tv, I am usually subject to mediocre films at best.
For example, I watched “Blind Horizon” a on Friday. What? Never heard of it? No way, because it totally starred Val Kilmer, Neve Campbell and featured Faye Dunaway. It is only a few years old. Still no? Well, that’s because it was a piece of tripe and just further proves that Hollywood will make any piece of garbage once there is a celebrity attached. It also proves that Hollywood still believes Val Kilmer is a celebrity. But anyone who’s really watching can see Val Kilmer trying the way of Brando-post-Godfather (he wishes!).
But that is all beside the point. (Actually, it’s no where near the point.) So tonight I was watching “The Skeleton Key.” John Hurt’s character has had a major stroke, or something like it, and Kate Hudson’s character is trying to spirit him away from his house and his hoodoo-crazed wife. It is a daring escape (is there any other kind?) and Kate Hudson props the barely-concious Hurt into her VW Bug and takes off to crash the gate of his bayou estate.
This scene is now one of my favorite scenes ever, and I’ll tell you why. I love this scene because it single-handedly flushed the entire movie down the crapper. Up until this point I would say I was mildly interested. At least interested enough to finish the movie. But two key things happened that were beyond my (or anyone else’s) suspension of disbelief. First, everyone knows damn well you can’t crash a VW Bug through anything. We all had friends in high school who drove bugs, and we’ve all pushed said bug because it couldn’t make it up a hill.
But worse than that, so much worse than that, was when after Kate Hudson put John Hurt into the car, and after she got into the driver seat, and after she’d started the car, and after she’d revved the bug engine a few times, and after her mascara had run (because of course it was raining and night-time during this daring escape), and after the music swelled to let you know this was the last chance for escape…after all that, Kate Hudson turned to John Hurt who’s only lines up to this point were, “Ungh,” and “Mmmm,” because his body was completely useless do to his hoodoo stroke…she turns to him and says, “HANG ON!”
A part of me would certainly have been tickled if Hurt had actually reached out and grabbed on to the passenger handle that bugs have just above the glove box. But no, John Hurt is too fine at his craft to have broken character at that point. Instead, he just laid there limp in the seat with his mouth gaping open. Well done, Hurt.
I wonder how Hurt’s agent approached him to play that part. “John, I’ve found a fantastic vehicle for your talents. The movie is called ‘The Skeleton Key.’ Your character has had a major stroke, or something like it, and he is completely incapacitated. There are no lines. Just some gasping and moaning. You just lay there and let Kate Hudson give you a sponge bath. What do you think?”
It would have been great if Ebert had given his review as “Hurt was mesmerizing…and mesmerized.”