The Scarlet Letter (1995) Roland Joffe

Production Budget: $50 million
Gross: $10 million

Watching the movies isn’t the hard part of reviewing.  No the hard part is coming up with crap to say about trash like this.  It’s moments like when Hollywood tacks on a happy ending to the Scarlet Letter that makes me embarrassed for Hollywood and hard to defend at times.  It doesn’t help when Demi Moore says it’s alright because nobody has read the book anyway.  Seriously Demi, sit down and shut the fuck up.

So anyway, the movie is about Hester Prynne (Demi Moore) who is sent to Massachusetts to set up a house for her husband.  Hester is now portrayed as such a feminist even G.I. Jane would think it over the top.  Hester meets the young preacher Arthur Dimmesdale (Gary Oldman) and they fall in love.  When Hester’s husband supposedly dies, she and Arthur sleep together.  Hester gets pregnant and the community label her an adulteress putting a scarlet A on her.  Hester gets released from prison with her new baby Pearl and finds her husband who she thought died had come back.  And we have come to the beginning of the book.  That’s right, we spend an hour of the movie getting to the point where the book f*cking starts.  Anyway, Hester and Dimmesdale try to keep their affair secret while Mr. Prynne (Robert Duvall) devises his revenge.

This is hilarious as to how, well, Hollywood this is.  We just can’t have Hester and Arthur in love, we need Demi nekkid! (I personally don’t have a problem with that)  As I mentioned before, we can’t have Hester simply be strong willed for the times she was in, but the Norma Rae of the Puritans.  We need a voice over because us stupid people don’t get that Hester and Arthur are secretly in love with each other and hate being apart.  And we can’t have Mr. Prynne try to psychologically torture Hester and Arthur, we have to make him f*cking Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear.

Duvall is seriously hilarious in this movie and the Cape Fear comparison is apt.  He apparently goes all native when he gets captured by the Indians so he is like a two face when he returns to civilization.  In the Puritan camp he is all super prim and proper and stiff.  When its night, he strips down, shaves his whole body, carves things into himself, whoops, hollers, and kills motherf*ckers with a knife.  Everyone else tries to be all stiff and have proper accents and talk formally and whatnot.  No, not Duvall.  He went all Martin Riggs in this movie and it’s glorious.  I f*cking love this guy.

Demi Moore is simply no good.  She has always been a pretty, but incredibly wooden actress.  She is asked to carry this movie which is crazy.  Gary Oldman is alright, but he really has nothing to play off in this movie.  He has countless scenes where he is all alone professing his love for Hester.  He really is at his best when he’s chewing scenery and showing others up and here he just doesn’t do that.

When it comes to the ending you guessed it; an action climax.  For some reason Dimmesdale was doing charity work for the Indians and when sh*t turns south (some Indians in the panic are put in internment camps)  the tribes raid the village and bail him out.  The only thing we miss out on is a final fight between Mr. Prynne and Dimmesdale.  Come on Scarlet Letter, don’t pussy out on me now!  I want Prynne with knife and tomahawk fighting Dimmesdale with a cross/rocket launcher on the other.    What?  You already piss on us by giving it a happy ending.  What is this ending like?  It’s like Romeo getting on top of a soapbox at the end of Romeo and Juliet and giving a Shatner-ian speech about how foolish both families are by not accepting their love.  Then Romeo and Juliet go off and live happily ever after and have a dozen babies.  That is essentially what this ending is.  It is stupid, it is insulting to the audience, it talks down, it doesn’t work, it’s it’s…poopy.

Good grief this movie is dumb.  If this weren’t for Duvall’s over the top performance I would hate this movie.  With it, I can only say it just sucks.


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