Mary Reilly (1996) Julia Roberts, John Malkovich, George Cole, Michael Gambon Movie Review

Mary Reilly (1996)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Julia Roberts in Mary Reilly (1996)

There's Not Something About Mary

Young Irish maid, Mary Reilly (Julia Roberts) finds herself working for the curious Dr. Henry Jekyll (John Malkovich) who takes an interest in the shy young woman with painful looking scars which suggest to him she was abused. And Mary takes an interest in Dr. Jeykyll and his work finding herself becoming a favourite of his and also his friend Dr. Hyde (John Malkovich) who he has arranged room for. But as Mary becomes close to both Jeykyll and Hyde she realises she is in danger.

An alternative title for "Mary Reilly" could easily be "There's not something about Mary" as sadly this is a movie which for most of the time is as dull as watching magnolia paint dry. Now maybe the issue is one more of expectations because back in 1996 this was not exactly what the Julia Roberts fan base or general movie going public was expecting from her and to be honest Roberts is wrong for the part. Oh I'm not on about her inconsistent accent, although it is annoying, but because no one wants to see the "Pretty Woman" star playing a meek character in a gothic melodrama.

John Malkovich and George Cole in Mary Reilly (1996)

But Julia Roberts is not the only obvious issue with "Mary Reilly" as there seems to be a disconnect between the cast. You have Roberts doing her thing, John Malkovich doing his thing and Glenn Close doing her thing but they never seem to be acting off of each other, just doing their thing. Amusingly it is the likes of George Cole and Kathy Staff who bring a greater sense of naturalness to their characters and make it feel like they're actually acting off of each other and making the scenes they are in a lot more entertaining.

What "Mary Reilly" does have is the look and the set designers deserve praise because it is they who more than anyone manage to make it watchable. Yet the good sets are often wasted such as in a scene where Mary spies on Dr. Hyde and hides in the shadows as it fails to create the right level of tension because Stephen Frears switches to using close ups and sudden edits which rob those scenes of its gothic look.

What this all boils down to is that "Mary Reilly" is a miss for me and is a combination of things which end up making it an incredibly dull movie which is laborious in its pacing.