Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1996. NFH Productions, TriStar Pictures. Screenplay by Christopher Hampton, based on the novel by Valerie Martin. Cinematography by Philippe Rousselot. Produced by Norma Heyman, Nancy Graham Tanen, Ned Tanen. Music by George Fenton. Production Design by Stuart Craig. Costume Design by Consolata Boyle. Film Editing by Lesley Walker.
Terrifying, moody thriller that tells the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from the point of view of one of the doctor’s chambermaids (played by Julia Roberts). Based on the novel by Valerie Price and written for the screen by Academy Award-winner Christopher Hampton (Dangerous Liaisons), the film is rich with atmosphere thanks to cleverly paced direction by Stephen Frears and some fantastic production design that includes a giant one-piece courtyard set by Stuart Craig. Roberts is excellent as the heroine, an innocent young woman who has no idea what is going on in her employer’s laboratory, but in her growing affection for him reserves her judgment for what could possibly be something devastating. John Malkovich is, unfortunately, the film’s downfall, giving a frustrating performance that makes no noticeable distinction between his two characters. He doesn’t get in the way of this being a great horror classic, however, even if audiences avoided it like the plague upon its original release, uninterested in seeing Roberts without her trademark smile and overly critical of her middling success with the Irish accent. Look for Glenn Close in a magnificent cameo.