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The Raven
Genre Mystery
 
Review:

Edgar Allan Poe was a 19th century American writer best known for his works of mystery and the macabre, a strong influence on the genre of detective fiction. The Raven is one of the most famous poems today and now the title for the film by V for Vendetta director James McTeigue. The Raven is a mystery thriller and a fictionalised account of Poe's last days, which are still shrouded in mystery.

Screenwriters Ben Livingston and Hannah Shakespeare have concocted a tale that embodies the dark Gothic mystery and macabre elements of Poe's style. The film is more of a magpie than a raven in the way it borrows bits and pieces from Poe's work to set the scene for a copycat killer, whose grisly murders are inspired by Edgar Allan Poe's writing.

John Cusack is a good choice for The Raven, a film that is constantly trying to balance commercial and critical appeal. Cusack is instantly likable, which makes it a sympathetic casting call for the infamous Poe, one that echoes Robert Downey Jr. in Guy Ritchie's recent foray into famous  literary character, Sherlock Holmes. Both films have a penchant for modernising the old world with slick comic book style visuals and production values.

John Cusack is supported by Luke Evans as Detective Fields with Brendan Gleeson and Alice Eve to bulk up the cast's weighting and overall appeal. Cusack runs with the character of Poe, demonstrating his dark side but never quite letting himself slip into the character - making it an adept, involving, likable and otherwise standard Cusack performance - a good thing.

The Raven blurs the line between fact and fiction. The interweaving of Poe's literary works and his biography creates a world and atmosphere that reflects like a liquid mirror. The film hinges on the audience's flexibility in terms of storytelling, genre convention and a warped biography.

It may not be dark enough for many fans of Edgar Allan Poe, but those who are less familiar with the writer will find this mystery-thriller entertaining. The performances aren't quite where you'd want them for a film with one foot in reality, but the cast carry their characters well enough to immerse us in this authentic Baltimore tale.

The bottom line: Compelling


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