Billed as being as a gothic feminist horror and thriller, “THE YELLOW WALLPAPER” by director Kevin Pontuti, is anything but any of those things listed. Based on the short story of the same name by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the film shows us a long drawn out story of a woman, Jane (Alexandra Loreth) who is the victim of ignorant and sexist medical ‘treatment,’ and is confined by her husband in a room with yellow wallpaper. What should be a creepy study of madness and oppression, takes a different turn in this full feature version.
Though it has been adapted several times before, the story is a difficult one to capture as much of it takes place within Jane’s mind and with her relationship with the wallpaper in the room where she is kept. In this instance Alexandra Loreth, who wrote this adaptation, (which should give it something of an edge), seemingly looses track of what the story is actually about as it meanders along. The film opens with a shocking incident which may or may not be real and from there we follow as Jane is nothing of the norm that society of the time, tells her she should be. When her doctor husband John (Joe Mullins), orders that she be confined for the sake of her mental health as she is considered by him to be suffering from a nervous disorder. The ‘cure’ prescribed is just to rest, rest, rest – all the time. From the beginning, Jane feels that something about the room with the yellow wallpaper is off, but she has no control over her own paths in life, and there is always the lingering threat of being institutionalized being held over her. She is oddly forbidden from reading or writing, she has nothing to do with herself except diagnose the pattern on the wallpaper, which she finds herself at odds with. All the while, she ignores more and more not only every day things of life, but her newborn baby as well.
The story unfolds slowly and requires more than just a little patience from it’s audience to get through. With it’s beginning alluding to the early stages of a mystery, we continue to wait to see what could possibly be unfolding between this odd couple. Why they have come to this place and why she is made to stay in this room that disturbs her so much? Sadly, we never really come to find out what it is that does just this as the film plods along instead watching a woman who clearly has post-partum depression, something completely unknown at the time, but slow descent of her mental state without any ‘gothic horror’ is also certainly is not anything remotely ‘feminist’. We do however get treated to some beautiful cinematography and that will just have to do for the time being.
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Review screening: Courtesy of KO-PR
“THE YELLOW WALLPAPER” PREMIERED AT CINEQUEST FILM FESTIVAL – FULL RELEASE DATE TBA