Donato Rotunno, 2006, Luxembourg-UK
Another failed adaptation of ‘The Turn of the Screw’, demonstrating again what a fine balance of ambiguity, delusion and repression Henry James’ novel is. This version is contemporised, but this proves detrimental rather then enlightening: despite impressive exteriors, this updated Bligh has no atmosphere or eeriness (and there is little sense that the exteriors have anything to do with the interiors). Elsewhere, the shoving of lesbian titillation and highlighting of child abuse is as crass as if the governess was made to stalk the empty hallways of Bligh with a strap-on. She is an obvious head-case from the beginning, even before meeting the children, whom she then subjects to endless art therapy. The film also has no idea what to do with its apparent ghosts: they barely register, and a mark of what is so wrong and clueless with this translation is how it resorts to Miles (Christian Olson) jump-scaring Flora (Gabrielle Adam) in order to get its cheap shocks before ultimately descending into slasher motifs for final chase sequence. Leelee Sobienski’s performance as the governess gets increasingly embarrassing at more-or-less the same pace as the film. As Miss Grose, only Tara Fitzgerald manages to step away from this fiasco with dignity, despite a ridiculous scene where she is sent into a masturbatory frenzy by playing the violin and incongruous electronic music. The novel is a tricky one and there is nothing to be gained, not here anyway, by making modern awareness and translations of sexuality as its calling card.