Film Review: Carrie

Copyright: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
I was surprised how inadequately Chloë Grace Moretz opened this film. In the first minutes, we see Carrie as high school girl who doesn’t fit in with the rest of her classmates. In gym class, she acts clumsy and looks totally bewildered and mortified. Her hands are constantly pressed next to her chest or thighs, and her gaze fixed to the floor.  Moretz plays her like someone who has awakened in somebody else’s body, like an old 70-year-old Norwegian man somehow got transported in an American teenage girl. In the first 10 minutes, she overacts with a capital O.

But then, things start to improve, although not for her character. She is violently humiliated by her fellow students, and the incident strikes a match in her consciousness, and soon leads her to paranormal abilities. Simultaneously Sue, one of the girls that took part in the episode, begins to regret her involvement and seeks a way to redeem herself. She does this by distancing herself from the other girls that regret nothing, and plans to make it up to Carrie. A seemingly naïve combination of events starts to shape a road towards a bloody high school showdown.

At this point, Moretz talent begins to correct her acting and Carrie starts to emerge, formed as a normal (apart from the telekinesis stuff), but tormented human being. Her mother, Margaret, a quietly enraged religious fanatic, is the person that shapes her involvement with the rest of the world. Margaret is presented flawlessly by Julianne Moore, how still has the capacity to amaze me, it this case with the combination of savagery and tenderness she shows in the same scenes. Moore presents these complete opposites as dual engines that in an equal part drive Margaret, and that also are a factor in the Carrie’s downfall.

Kimberly Peirce, who directed the movie, gave the script and interesting perspective. The story is focuses on female characters, and almost every relevant character is a teenage girl or a grown woman. They all play a different role in Carrie’s life, and their interactions eventually lead to her own acknowledgment of her own self, no matter who destructive this insight eventually becomes. I wouldn’t say the film includes a feminist message of any kind, nor do I believe Peirce intended to embed one, but the presented world of women is definitely an intriguing playground for this character driven horror film. It does also worthy to note that Pierce didn’t go for the usual things in this genre, so don’t expect thrills and frights. The emotional life of Carrie White is the scariest thing in this film.

In essence, Carrie shows us a series of broken or hurt women who try to do the right thing, either for themselves or for others. It’s not a character case study, but instead it merely witnesses their ordeals and their combined resolution in which everybody lost in one way or another. It’s a good thing that Moretz got her act together so quickly, because without her, Peirce would have ended up with a lot less convincing film.

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