Sunday, December 8, 2013

The Cry of the Owl (2009)

"The Cry of the Owl" is a strange little movie featuring profoundly odd characters who perplexed the bejeezus out of me. It's a movie that grows on you once you get behind the rhythm of the storytelling. Paddy Considine, an actor who I absolutely love and have enormous respect for, plays a slightly awkward and rather lonely divorcee by the name of Robert Forrester, who routinely spies on a local woman (Julia Stiles,) watching her house from a hiding spot in the woods.

   Robert is caught by the girl, whose name is Jenny Thierouf, and she rather perplexingly invites him into her house, where she lives alone, her solitary life occasionally interrupted by the appearances of her boyfriend, Greg Wyncoop (James Gilbert.) It soon becomes apparent that she is to some degree fascinated with Robert's creepy interest in her.

   Unfortunately for Robert, Greg is the jealous type who proceeds to make Robert suffer, even after Jenny tells Greg under no uncertain terms that their relationship is over. When Greg attacks Robert and promptly goes missing,  poor Robert finds himself ostracized at every turn, and worse, a murder suspect.

   Based on a book by Patricia Highsmith, the film features interesting and well-written characters, from whom you never know quite what to expect. Robert displays inappropriate social behavior and never seems quite comfortable in his own skin at any given time, and it takes us some time to decide whether he is essentially harmless or a dangerous wacko. With her clipped monotone and bizarre segues, Jenny is a fragile soul, and although you feel kind of bad for her, you certainly don't trust her.

   The first thing I noticed was the unevenness of Paddy's American accent. Otherwise, he is very good as an introvert whose creepy nighttime activities have put him in hot water at work and home. Julia Stiles initially comes off as a rather stiff and uninterested presence, but we gradually warm up to her acting style, which ultimately fits the character.

   "The Cry of the Owl" is a slow burner, with a rather abrupt ending, that may appeal perfectly to some audiences and confound and alienate others. I liked the offbeat characters and I was sucked into the mystery plot. Not for all tastes, and it may need time to grow on you, but otherwise, an entertaining thriller.


  1. Hi Steph! Boy, I have never even heard of this film but I like Julia Stiles, both she and Considine are so underrated. The plot doesn't appeal to me right away though, but I'd give it a rent on account of both actors.

  2. Nice review, Sarah. Yes, the characters were seriously weird in this one. I liked the irony of the stalker becoming the stalkee, so to speak.


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