Steven snares women, then bleeds them dry. By the time someone catches up to one, he's on to the next.
The film opens with a car in a tree with copious blood flowing out of it. This was a former girl friend of Steven's.
Steven prevents a woman, Maria, from committing suicide, then romances her. Later he dumps her body in some quicksand. The body is found by a Spanish fisher. Steven gets a visit from the police.
Anne Labels is a structural engineer whom Steven meets at a museum.
Steven saves the inspector from a gang. The gang re-appears later while Steven is with Anne; the leader means to use her. Steven beats up the other four gang members and gets Anne away from the leader. He subdues the leader; she returns with a weapon; they leave more or less unscathed.
The police bring him in for more interviews.
The police give up for a time when the inspector learns from Maria's friends that she was contemplating suicide and that Steven prevented it. Steven returns the crucifix that the gang leader stole from the inspector at their first meeting.
Steven falls in love with Anne. He needs her blood, but he cannot do it.
Such a quandary.
Cinematography: 10/10 Sweet; well done.
Sound: 10/10 Also good.
Acting: 10/10 Top notch.
Screenplay 9/10 A little slow moving, but well-constructed.
It starts off really well with mystery. Law's girlfriend is killed and he gets involved with a suicidal woman. When the woman's body is found by fishermen, he becomes the main suspect. The cat-and-mouse between Law and the police insepector (a quietly effective Timothy Spall) is entertaining but the gang they fight seems less of reality than the Jets in "West Side Story." The picture gets melodramatic with the love story with Elina Lowensohn as Anna, an engineer. She's just as enigmatic as Law so it's obviously they have issues and not just that Law will need to kill her for her loving blood.
The cinematography and set designs are top notch. "Immortality" in retrospective is a cerebral drama but doesn't pay off emotionally for the viewer.
Ahhh..."The Wisdom of Crocodiles." Sure, it may say Immortality on the United States DVD cover, but it's still real (and European) to me, dammit! THIS particular motion picture was purchased by yours truly during a different, non-horror binge - that being a buying session devoted to my favorite actor of all time, Jude "The Pimp" Law. In the past, I've annoyed pretty much anyone who will listen yammering about the greatness of all things Jude, so the short, short version - there's actors who take easy roles and then do something slightly out of their element, netting instant Oscar gold, and then there's the ACTOR'S actors, who seek out challenges at every turn. That's Jude Law; he pulls off a seamless disappearing act in his movies...but wait, I'm yammering. Yeah, he's awesome, and it's not a man crush, I swear.
Well, "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" was a little independent horror movie released in the U.K. way back in 1998. It came out before Law's arrival Stateside via The Talented Mr. Ripley and the Oscar nomination put him on the A-list map and set him on the fast track to having enough money to afford a solid gold island. As such, what you get with this movie is the best of many different worlds; a screenplay that ignores the conventions of mainstream horror flicks (jump scares, easily digestible plots, emo teenage victim characters, etc.), and a young, hungry actor at the top of his game, eager to cut his teeth and prove his worth. Or something.
Long-winded introductory soliloquy is over. With that...
Most horror films wish they could be as good as the first twenty minutes of "The Wisdom of Crocodiles." We are introduced to Steven Grlscz (pronounced "Grillsh," and played by Law), a charming, likable man who saves a depressed woman from killing herself in London's subway. He takes her home to his apartment, impresses her with a few parlor tricks, guides her to his bedroom, begins making love to her, then bites her right in the freakin' neck and murders her. The screenplay isn't lazy with the implications of the act, either, as this part of the story lingers and lingers. Much like Norman Bates cleaning up after his mother during the middle sections of "Psycho," we see every aspect of Steven's body disposal, as he dumps the spent corpse in a remote swamp.
To state the obvious, Steven Grlscz is indeed a vampire, although the "V" word is never once even mentioned in the movie. The rules of vampirism in the world of "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" are completely unlike anything I've ever seen in a movie before. He is able to walk about freely in the daylight and he doesn't have overly theatrical fangs, for starters. As for the quirks that this story introduces, Grlscz has many. His victim choice is limited exclusively to women, and there seems to be a stipulation that the women must have some degree of love for him, hence the seduction aspect. He also seems to have next to no control over his bodily functions, requiring some sort of mechanical contraption to breathe while he sleeps. This is some weird movie.
As the movie's second act begins, Grlscz (who works by day as a sketch artist) meets Anne Levels (Elina Lowensohn, who is very likable and engaging in the role), a beautiful factory foreman who also suffers from debilitating asthma. I don't know how many beautiful female factory foreman exist in the world (since I work in a factory, and all of my bosses are Christian Bale-grizzled dudes), but I swear, it comes across as much more realistic than it sounds. There's your main plot cog, people - Grlscz sets his sights on Anne as his next victim to add her to his collection of trophies, with the wholly expected twist being that his love for kind-hearted Anne will eventually save him.
In this regard, there's nothing minty-fresh about this film. In its other touches, however, this is truly a one-of-a-kind vampire movie. For starters, it actually deals with the logistics of how a modern-day vampire would go about his business, and makes the movie-opening serial killer montage carry some weight as the body of Grlscz's initial victim is found. Rather than attempt to cover up and lie his way out of it, Grlscz takes an interesting approach to foiling the law - he becomes an active participant in the investigation, even becoming semi-friends Inspector Healey (Timothy Spall), the lead investigator in charge of the case. Instead of being an antagonistic relationship, the two characters become genuine friends, especially after Grlscz assists Healey recover his wedding ring from a gang of street punks.
Of course, it's the sordid details that really stick with you, and there's plenty to be had here. The opening murder scene, the strange collection of "emotions" that Grlscz has harvested from his victims (it seems that he somehow "absorbs" whatever each of his females feels about him at the moment of their death), and the scene where Anne has to deal with a dying co-worker after suffering a horrible on-the-job accident are all gritty aspects of the story that do tons to endear the story and make it stick out in your mind.
In the end, that's what makes this movie something special. "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" is just an inherently unique vampire film; the characters are well-crafted (even Inspector Healey is portrayed as sympathetic), the writing seems as logical as possible for a movie about a love-feeding vampire roaming about in modern-day London, and the acting is quite simply fantastic. You'd be hard-pressed to find five vampire films that feel as realistic as this one, but you'd also be hard-pressed to find five that are as emotional. Twi-tards, check this movie out - this, along with "Let the Right One In," represents the "vampire love story" done without absolutely neutering the subject matter.
I liked the new idea...
Side note: I only knew this to be titled 'The Wisdom of Crocodiles' which is a far better title than the glib 'Immortality'.