The Cry Of The Owl
by Del Harvey
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The Cry Of The Owl is adapted from a Patricia Highsmith novel and contemplates what happens to a stalker when the object of his obsession returns the favor.
Ms. Highsmith’s works have often been adapted into films quite successfully by directors such as Hitchcock with Strangers On A Train, or Anthony Mighella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, or Wim Wenders’ The American Friend. This time the film has been adapted by director Jamie Thraves, whose previous works include The Low Down and a series of Radiohead commercials for the BBC. This is the third adaptation of The Cry Of The Owl. The first was by Claude Chabrol in 1987 as Le cri du hibou, and the second was also in 1987 by German director Tom Toelle as Der Schrei der Eule. Thraves’ version feels a little bit like a Raymond Carver story blended with a dash of Hitchcock and a pinch of Coen Bros. It is a quirky psychological thriller that depends more upon the peculiar qualities of its characters more than true suspense, but in this case, that’s a good thing.
The film tells the story of Robert (Paddy Considine - Cinderella Man), a man trying to recover from a messy divorce by seeking solace in a small town. Robert becomes fascinated by the apparent domestic bliss of Jenny (Julia Stiles - The Bourne Trilogy), who he secretly watches through her window. When Jenny catches him, she invites him in and the two begin a relationship, much to the chagrin of Jenny’s boyfriend. But when her boyfriend goes missing, Robert becomes the number one suspect in a murder investigation, leaving him to wonder if Jenny may not be all that she seems.
Thraves’ adaptation is moody and unconventional, but if you can just give it a bit of patience, I think that this Canadian/German co-production will win you over in the end. It is certainly unusual, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Cry Of The Owl makes its DVD debut June 8, 2010 from Paramount Home Entertainment.
Del Harvey is the founder of Film Monthly, a film teacher, a writer and a film critic in Chicago.
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