The Wolfman (2010)



Notes: Universal.
Lawrence Talbot: Benicio Del Toro
Sir John Talbot: Anthony Hopkins
Gwen Conliffe: Emily Blunt
Singh: Art Malik

Written: Andrew Kevin Walker, David Self
Directed: Joe Johnston

Summary: A woman’s voice reads the poem (“Even a man who’s pure of heart and says his prayers at night…”) on a tombstone. The moon appears through tree branches. Blackmoor England, 1891. A slashing, the victim of which will turn out to be Lawrence Talbot’s older brother Ben. “Alas, poor Yorick,” is spoken on stage: Lawrence is an actor. Gwen Conliffe visits Lawrence backstage, looking for her finacĂ© Ben. Lawrence obviously has daddy issues, but he takes a train (through what looks like Transylvania). A passenger speaks of the days of his mother being alive like an Eden. He wants to give Lawrence his stick with a silver wolf’s head on it. Lawrence refuses but the man leaves the stick on the train and Lawrence takes it. Next, a coach, as in Dracula movies. Lawrence emerges wearing lots of fur on his coat. We see a wolf statue at the estate, trophy animal heads inside. Stairway and dog. Anthony Hopkins is Sir John Talbot, with a gun. Brother Ben’s body has been found. We meet Indian servant Singh. Lawrence insists on viewing the body: “I missed his whole life.” The corpse is skeletal.

At a local tavern, theories abound. A grudge? “Damn gypsies.” Ben visited a gypsy whore? One man tells a story of someone having been “eaten alive,” and silver bullets and a full moon play their parts. Others laugh at the notion of a werewolf. Someone refers disparagingly to Lawrence’s mother, at which point Lawrence calls the place a “shit-hole town” and storms out. At a desolate dinner with Dad and Gwen, the latter, grieving, turns down baked eel: “something plainer.” Dad calls the townspeople “provincial,” “ignorant,” “savages,” in an attempt to goad Lawrence. “And how comfortable are you in your skin, may I ask?” Lawrence’s acting is interpreted as “pretending to be other people.” Ben was indeed a go-between for the gypsies and the town gentry. A telescope prompts poetic sentiments about the moon. But “the past is a wilderness of horrors.” Lawrence passes by a room and is haunted by voices, memories of topiaries, a vision of his dead mother with a razor.

After the funeral, we learn that Dad put Lawrence in an asylum for a year, and then sent him to the U.S. At the full moon, Dad says that Lawrence must stay inside. But Lawrence visits the gypsy camp and meets Maleva (Geraldine Chaplin). We see a bear, who momentarily gets blame, but a werewolf attack brings about a slaughter. Lawrence shoots repeatedly, and trails the creature, but is jumped and badly bitten before others drive away the animal. Maleva says there is no cure, but that he can be released only by someone who loves him.

Gwen tends to the recovering and delirious Lawrence. Dr. Lloyd is astounded that Lawrence recovers use of his arm, which has healed itself. Singh says, “Sometimes the monster hunts you.” An inspector visits and wants a scientific examination of Lawrence’s nearly healed wounds. No animal predators are left in England capable of such attacks. Lawrence wants nothing to do with this guy and remarks about his failure in the Ripper murders a couple years back. Lawrence skips stones with Gwen until he hears horses a long way off — his senses are sharpening. A gang attacks Lawrence; Dad shoots. Lawrence notes his own strength. His wounds are gone, and he rejects the mirror. He warns Gwen that she is unsafe. In town, preaching and silver bullet-making occupy the people. Lawrence follows his father at night to the mausoleum, where Dad says that after the death of his wife his life was over. Look into his eyes: “I’m quite dead.” He locks Lawrence in, saying that the townspeople won’t kill you but they’ll blame you. The werewolf transformation takes place. The townspeople have a stag bait, but slaughter and butchery take them virtually unawares.

A bloody Lawrence is woken up by Dad. Lawrence is captured and taken to Lambeth Asylum, chained to a chair like the Frankenstein monster, and given the icy “dunking” cure by a sadistic doctor. He receives shots and electrocution, and has visions. Dad visits his cell and tells a lycanthropy story resembling Werewolf of London but including a feral cave-boy. “You killed my mother,” Lawrence realizes. Life is too glorious to the cursed and damned to want to end it all. Singh helps imprison Dad for the last 25 years after Dad was a prize-fighter in Austin, San Francisco, New York. But now, “kill or be killed” references mingle with “To be, or not to be.” There’s a full moon tonight. Lawrence vows to kill his father.

Tied to a chair, Lawrence serves the doctor as an exhibit in a psychological teaching demonstration. “You moron, tonight I will kill all of you.” The inspector is in the audience. The transformation takes place, people panic, Lawrence as a werewolf slaughters many, including the doctor. He has a Quasimodo moment with a gargoyle but races over rooftops. He creates a traffic incident much like one in King Kong and vaults over cops, resting near Tower Bridge. In the morning, he’s bloody.

Gwen opens shop where we see a bust of Shakspere. Lawrence tells Gwen Dad killed Mom and Ben. “To have known you in another life….” They kiss. The inspector shows up. Lawrence slips away and buys a stack of newspapers with his face on the front page as a Wanted escapee. Gwen researches lycanthropy and sees the famous engravings. She visits Maleva and is told there is no cure. “Saints give you strength.” The inspectors instructs his men to shoot on sight. Lawrence finds Singh dead. He goes hunting Dad who is bloodying the piano keys. Lawrence shoots but Dad removed the powder from the shells. Lawrence takes a beating. The moon (referred to as “her”) appears and both men transform. At the end of their fight, Lawrence decapitates his father. As the house burns, Gwen runs to the woods. Lawrence tracks her and attacks, but she says, “You know me.” Howl. Gwen grabs the gun and shoots Lawrence, who dies grasping her arm. “I’m sorry.” “It had to be this way. Thank you.” The inspector looks on, but was bitten.

The ending credits play manically like those of The Island of Dr. Moreau.

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