Posted by Tracy Poff on July 13, 2011
Edward Scissorhands is basically a good, but not great, film. The story in brief, is this: Peg sells cosmetics for Avon, though she isn’t very successful at encouraging her neighbours to buy them. After quite a run of bad luck, she decides to visit the creepy out-of-place castle and see if she can’t sell something to its residents. Once there, she finds Edward, a young man with scissors for hands, living alone in the attic, and resolves to take him home. Edward, being unusual, becomes an object of interest for Peg’s gossiping neighbours, and becomes quite popular once his talent with using his hands (to sculpt shrubs or cut hair, among other things) becomes known. Unfortunately, complications arise. The rest, I’ll leave unsaid.
The movie has an odd feel to it. Edward’s castle home is very dark and dreary inside, and the outdoor scenes are very vivid by contrast. The homes in the town are all horrible pastel colors. The town feels like some weird parody of fifties suburbia, though the film takes place in more modern times–probably the present day (i.e. about 1990).
The movie is quite slow. I don’t require that movies be all action-packed thrillers, of course, but I sometimes got a little impatient to see some character development. And, really, not much character development happened–most of the characters end the movie just as the began it. Edward becomes a little more comfortable around people as the movie progresses, and Kim comes to like him more, but that’s about it.
The lack of development isn’t entirely a flaw–I’d say it’s a large part of the point of the movie. Edward begins the movie alone and ends the same way, as a result of the other characters’ flaws. The message seems to be that people are horrible, cruel beings that cannot help but destroy any innocent and pure thing they find. Edward was too ‘gentle’ (as the film’s tagline proclaims him) for those flawed people to accept.
Johnny Depp’s performance as Edward is actually quite good, and there are some really excellent moments, both of comedy and of pathos, evoked excellently by Depp’s mostly-silent portrayal of Edward. Peg’s husband, Bill, played by Alan Arkin, is also great–he takes all the events of the movie in stride and it’s great fun to watch.
As I said earlier, the movie’s slow pace and lack of character development aren’t entirely flaws. The main problem with the movie, I think, is the ending. I can’t help but feel like the ending is just lazy. It’s very unsatisfying. I don’t need a happy ending, but really it feels like the movie just goes on for a while and then stops. It feels unresolved, but not in a way that really contributes to the themes of the film. It’s a shame.