Pumpkin (2002) is an adequate film but not one of Christina Ricci's best performances because the script doesn't give her sufficient chance to shine.
The theme could've been quite serious. Carolyn, a sorority girl, is losing her social standing for falling in love with a mentally challenged man (Hank Harris as the hunky Pumpkin).
Alas, the script was fearful of its own material, didn't really want to show a pretty girl in love with a simpleton. There's not that much wrong with Pumpkin that a less condescending knickname wouldn't've fixed, so what's the big deal.
The story also attempts to be funny & it certainly isn't that, so as unusual love story or as comedy, it's just too tepid.
It seemed to me that Miranda (2002) had everything going for it to be an unpigeon-holable independent film I'd be apt to love, even if only for its unique manner of transforming romantic comedy into mystery thriller.
And yet it was hard going to get through it to the end, as I just was not as enthralled as I have been by many such off-the-beaten path quirky tales.
For the first act, it sets up probable character-traits for Christina Ricci as the title character, only to knock over what we think we know. So we just start liking her & find out that's not who she is. It ends up feeling like the film is always starting over without forward momentum.
I didn't care for Frank (John Smith), the idiot hero who thinks he's in love. I couldn't imagine any interesting woman responding to his wussy stalkerish adoration. Besides which he doesn't know her from a hole in the ground & I never bought that he was anything but deluded, chasing a dream & not a real person.
But relating to the often spectacular Christina Ricci as the heroine wasn't easy either, as the point of her character is chameleonic slipperiness. I liked her in the first few scenes, but when she turned out to be a con artist without much of a con, the character seemed as weak as she was ill defined.
She can't be pinned down as this or that, so she's not the figure we're intended to be relating to, unless like Frank as generic object of desire with no concern whatsoever for what her individual self might be. What she wants for herself, who she reallky is, is impossible to detect with unperceptive Frank our point of view access.
Frank's a lonely dufus who obsesses on Miranda who is way out of his league. He is about to step into a "David Lynch Lite" world of irresolvable misdirection, leaving his job as a librarian & setting out to track down the adored Object.
As he finds out more & more about the shifting nature of Miranda, his obsession remains, since it really never mattered who she might be. And then most unbelievably, she begins to respond to the possibility of finding true love with a dork. True love with a retarded man as in Pumpkin made more sense.
I really hoped she was still on the con & Frank was doomed, but there was nothing a worthless sod like that could be conned out of. It begins to read like a story written by just such a dork who wishes someone like Christina Ricci would fall in love with him. The writer couldn't make it believable because it was more a private masturbation fantasy than a credible story worth telling to others.
The cinematography is more interesting than the story, & the supporting cast is better than the protagonist. In particular, Kyle MacLaughlin shows up as a psychopath, underscoring director Marc Munden's desire to be David Lynch. He's playing it "ugly" & subduing his actual good looks, though he remains mesmerizing in an appalling oily manner.
Miranda makes a living tricking wealthy men into buying properties that aren't hers to sell, in collusion with a fellow con artist (John Hurt). She's planning a con against Nailor (Laughlin).
I have to say if I'd been writing this story, at some point I'd reveal that Frank, already a stalker, is the actual psycho, & after he kills Miranda's partner in crime, she has to join forces with demented Nailor who'd have the best chance of saving her because he wouldn't think twice about killing the stalker dork.
Sadly, the script is insistent that if there's a dynamic male, a dynamic female, & a dork, the girl will prefer the dork.
There's not much of a plot to go with all this, but there are a lot of pointless twists & turns. I wish I could've believed either the thriller component or the romance, as there seem to be the fixings of a good film here, only I couldn't find it. I would, however, recommend it to foot fetishists. Would you lick Christina Ricci's feet? I would.
copyright © by Paghat the Ratgirl