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For being near twenty year old movie that sports neither the massive, glitzy, overdone special effects nor the shallowness of the '90's sci-fi movie you must give it a watch. Gabriel Byrne! and Julia Ormond! That should be enough reason right there. Even Robert Loggia was a good cast. I will be honest and admit that I did not recognize that Vanessa Redgrave was in it. Not sure what that says about me other an age-gap for my real interest in movies coming alive. It is rated R and there is some strong language (" "I'm sorry I've given you the impression it's my mouth that's rough.") but it's not especially excessive.
It is based on a 1992 bestseller by Danish author Peter Høeg. I confess I have never read the book so can't compare it as an adaptation but I can recommend this movie as quite good with the suspense being mysteriously hypnotic. It takes quite a-bit to get me to put down my knitting or get my face out of the computer and keep my concentration through-out, let alone to the end and this films was able to do that being original, compelling and highly unpredictable! Certainly deserves more than receiving only a nomination for a Golden Bear Award @ Berlin International Film Festival.
What caught me by surprise are some of the shallow and snarky critical reviews I found afterwards leaving this movie being reveled as rather under appreciated in the grand scheme of things. But than again color me weird I suppose.
The late Roger Ebert conceded two thumbs up with "so absorbing, so atmospheric, so suspenseful", yet he tagged the plot as one of the goofiest and so dumb. I disagree whole-heartedly. Yes there is a nice-sort of Bond twist melded into Smilla's capability to handle herself, much like Ziva David on NCIS whom I also love, except Smilla appears to come by it naturally and out-of-no-where rather than having been trained. And it's certainly no stretch of the imagination that a giant corporation would work under such covert sneakiness and harbor wild secrets. Remember Silkwood?
Maybe so many people felt the plot preposterous twenty years ago due to the movies core being hinged upon a prehistoric "Arctic worm" thought to be long extinct.... but in all actual reality how different is that from say todays all-too-bizarre and tragic Ebola virus ?
The real impact of the film for me lies upon Smilla's maternal altruistic love for this little neighbor child that opens her soul, the searching of her own essence without even realizing it and exposing the reasons why she is the way she is. Also watching her trying to figure out if she can trust the mechanic (Gabriel Byrne). That alone could lead to a sequel ! I also found the geography of the movie quite a pleasant change.
The ending is more of an ultimate soul revenge-wish come true given what has happened which seems far from goofy and hardly dumb. It's really quite reasonable especially when maternal instinct becomes involved.
The really only oddball part of this movie I thought was what was up with the whole point of the lady who played girlfriend to Smilla's father Moritz Jasperson (Robert Loggia)... I mean I understand the point, but that part was a bit off and could have been worked better but it is brief and a bit comical.