Mary Reilly’s Secret (1996)

Mary Reilly’s Secret

Original:Mary Reilly
Year:1996•Country:USA, UK
Direction:Stephen Frears
Road map:Christopher Hampton, Valerie Martin
Production:Norma Heyman, Nancy Graham Tanen, Ned Tanen
Cast:Julia Roberts, John Malkovich, George Cole, Michael Gambon, Kathy Staff, Glenn Close, Michael Sheen, Bronagh Gallagher, Linda Bassett, Henry Goodman, Ciarán Hinds

The film is based on a book by Valerie Martin, that takes advantage of the history of The Doctor and the Monster (book of Roberto Louis Stevenson) and transcribes it from the perspective of the maid Mary Reilly. In the 19th century, maid Mary works with a small group of servants in the home of the wealthy and highly regarded doctor. Dr. Jekyll. Lonely and involved in his research, Dr. Jekyll ends up taking a liking to Mary while trying to obtain a formula to assuage an illness that afflicts him. In this process of “cure”, the doctor gives vent to his other self, Mr. Hydea ruthless sociopath who puts the lives of everyone around him at risk.

While Dr. Jekyll shows affection, Mr. Hyde expresses only voluptuousness and pleasure for young Mary. This, in turn, maintains a relationship of trust and, not to say, love with Dr. Jekyll while feeling disgusted and afraid of Mr. Hyde.

Mary also has her own inner demons, as she has numerous marks on her body and a history of abuse that makes her withdrawn and fragile.

As you can see, the film is based on the delicate relationship between these characters and much of the suspense and horror we discover through Mary’s eyes. The film has rare bloody moments and some philosophical drama, which may displease fans of the more direct horror, but may please those looking for a thriller classic, with good dialogues and interpretations.

Also, the film is directed by the great Stephen Frears who, to name just a few of his successes, signed The betrayer (1984), Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and the immoral (nineteen ninety). Julia Roberts plays the maid Mary, at a time in her career when she was looking for artistic recognition beyond the popular, which she had already won with the resounding success of A beautiful woman in 1990. The actress looks great, supported by the excellent performances of John Malkovich and Glenn Closewho worked with Frears on Dangerous Liaisons.

The film has great moments but also slow times that require a little more effort from the current viewer accustomed to more accelerated editions, but whoever gives the film a chance will certainly not be disappointed at the end of the projection, since the classic story is all there, framed by a realistic and very accurate vision of a peculiar filmmaker.

Curiosity: Michael Sheen, at the beginning of his career, plays the role of one of the employees of the house. Among other works, you will remember him as the angel of the series Good Curses (2020).

In time: film available at HBO Max.

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