Poe faces his gloomy, gory fate

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TO Raven image

The Raven

DIRECTOR: James McTeigue

CAST: John Cusack, Like Evans and Alice Eve

CLASSIFICATION: 16V

RUNNING TIME: 109 minutes

RATING: ***

‘That’s life; so much less satisfying than fiction.” Without spoiling the movie for you, these are the words that are uttered by a newspaper typesetter in The Raven.

The line is one tasty morsel from a platter full of a script that is voraciously devoured by a strong cast. It also carries in it a lot of truth. For instance, specu- lating about how Edgar Allan Poe died – as shown in this film – is way more fun than the facts.

A period piece, this dramatic thriller attempts to solve the mystery that has shrouded his death in 1849.

It chronicles the supposed last days of Poe, played with boorish charm (if you can picture such a thing) by Cusack (pictured). A murderer is on the loose in Poe’s small town, and using scenes from the literary luminary’s work as inspiration, the murderer duplicates the fiction to commit the crimes in real life.

The cinematography is made up of radiant light, a soft, warm focus in scenes where Poe’s love interest (Eve) is concerned which is contrasted with the darkness of the shadows that lurk wherever Poe walks and his all-black attire throughout the film.

Even though it’s dark, you never get a sense that Poe’s heart is hardened or that he’s evil. While it is always plau- sible that he may be involved in the crimes, he is set up from the very beginning when he says things like, “what brandy cannot cure has no cure” to win the audiences over.

It’s easy to be on Poe’s side because Cusack’s portrayal of the man is solid. He’s confident and protective over his work almost to a fault.

However, his fleeting goodwill is confusing as he is painted to be fiercely arrogant, so it’s amazing that he can show compassion at the weirdest of times.

Luke Evans, who plays the detective in charge of solving these crimes, is every bit the hero he is meant to play. A man’s man, if you will. So his bumping heads with Cusack is the picture of good chemistry.

The Raven, so titled after a Poe piece, is an imaginative look at Poe’s final days, so for fans of the writer this may not go down so well. The film is grue- some, both in its suggestive manner and in the literal sense where scenes are gory. So if you’re squeamish you may want to give this one a miss.

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