Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: The Countess (2009)

I've loved the story of Elizabeth (Erszebet) Bathory since I was in high school. She's a Hungarian countess who was rumored to have bathed in blood of virgin girls in order to achieve eternal youth and beauty. Second to Vlad the Impaler's story (they said the inspiration for Count Dracula), this is one of the tales that I read the earliest about "real-life vampires"--if by vampire you mean someone who is bloodthirsty.
I wasn't aware that there's a movie based on that story, and when I stumbled upon a torrent website and saw it (serendipity as always! Yaay!), I immediately downloaded it.

The flick wasn't so magnificent. Of course they would incorporate something "human" so the audience can readily relate to it. What else could it be but love? The story goes like this: Elizabeth fell in love with one Istvan, a very young man, and the latter readily returned the feelings. However, Istvan's father barged into the liaison and sent Istvan to Denmark to marry a young baroness. Elizabeth, thinking that her age has something to do with Istvan's leave, sought for the best cosmetic that would grant her youthful beauty. She discovered virgin girls' blood, and for years she tortured and drained young girls to death, collecting their blood and dabbing it onto her face. She must be going really insane, as she was seeing the improvements of her skin in the mirror while others can't. Istvan went back to her five years after he left and have their old flame rekindled. He still fulfilled his mission there, though: he must see evidences that would support the rumors about Elizabeth being a murderer. Elizabeth was sentenced to life imprisonment, bricked in her room for years before finally killing herself.

That's basically the formula: legend/historical account + love backstory = audience wants. It doesn't work all the time, though. The flick is lacking something from the start and I'm not quite satisfied at the end. Substance, perhaps? I know this could've been a better movie. Perhaps if July Delpy isn't the leading actress and the director and the writer, this must have turned into something bigger and more worth watching.

The gothic story was incorporated fully; the movie was swooningly faithful to its source. I imagined Elizabeth lying on a bathtub of blood though, when I first encountered her history. In the movie the countess treated the blood just as moisturizer, though later it was implied that she did shower with blood, under the cage where girls were impaled with some sort of sharp metal equipment and drained.

There was too-many a change of POV's, poor character development...and man, there was a babel of accents! I know the cast is international, but still.... *cringes* Oh well. I think it's still an "okay" movie. There are redeeming qualities, of course. Acting is not the forte of the picture, but the dialogues are (sometimes) great. XD Costumes are very appropriate and music is epic win!.

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