Don't listen to the negative reviews
A story that's too fascinating to pass by...
The movie turns out to be a little better than the average. Starting from a romantic formula often seen in the cinema, it ends in the most predictable (and somewhat bland) way.
So... It's really difficult to find a director and a script writer with fewer imagination and lack of drama perception.
SCRIPT WRITER: I was actually shocked to discover that Christopher Hampton, the script writer, is Oscar winning. I admit I never saw Dangerous Liaisons but I did see Atonement and I liked it dearly. Yet this script lacks everything expected from a script writer of this amplitude. The way he lost momentum of what in the book are most carefully threaded subplots, some of the dialog not only simply obliterated, but, worse, amputated, characters unreasonable modified or even excluded altogether in a most uninspired way... all tat is absolutely disconcerting.
I never expected a movie to follow every letter of the book it's based upon, but there is a limit to which you are bound if you want your movie to hoover around the same level of quality the book does. Christopher Hampton though, thought different. I'm under the impression that he wrote this script in the most unprofessional way he could ever write a script, in the manner one would do if one forgot about the deadline and remembered it the day it should have been delivered. Script wise, the movie is a complete shame on Christopher Hampton's panoply.
DIRECTOR: If I was Diane Setterfield I would be very unsatisfied by how this movie turned out. But I think more than being disappointed by the script writer, I would be so by the director. James Kent directed more than one movie based on a book. One of them - I loved the book but I HATED the movie - is 11.22.63. Not gonna comment it here though. The distracted way in which The Thirteenth Tale was directed is disconcerting. Unbelievable how actors like Vanessa Redgrave's or Olivia Colman's acting was reduced to utter amatorism by this director. The same sensation I experienced watching 11.22.63 which I already mentioned. James Franco looked like an impotent amator, not like the great actor he actually is. The only actress that resisted this mutilation of talent and turned out completely untainted was Sophie Turner. Thumbs up for her - and not the first time, either.
The location of the filming is superb - I've been in the area (not seen the actual park, only Helmsley) and just like probably most of the countryside England, it is breathtaking - yet this doesn't transpire from the movie. The scenes concentrate on debilitated characters instead of the majesty of the land. A house that is the actual centre in the book for most of the plot is barely filmed here and there and that's only an example.
So, considering the two main things that can make a movie an Oscar winning one or a simple celluloid pulp - just, as, unfortunately, The Thirteenth Tale is - scripting and directing, were impossibly idiotic this time. Hence my recommendation: don't watch the movie if you read the book, unless you are a script writer or a director and you want to learn what not to do when doing your job. Or, better yet, just read the book and forget the movie. You'll have more to win like that.
bob the moo
This film got positive reviews when it was screened around the Christmas period last year, however I sat on it for ages since I was conscious that being a good drama around that time of year doesn't always translate into it being a good drama in and of itself. The ghostly tale of death and mystery is told by an older woman approaching her own death to a younger woman commissioned to write her story – it is a standard setup and from here the story is told across many years in a patient and reasonably engaging manner. Indeed, the telling of the tale is where the film's strengths lie because it is undeniably a well crafted affair. The casting, the locations, the production values and the general maturity of the whole film are all such that it feels much better than it actually is. Suffice to say I can understand why it went down quite well at the end of the festive period, because it does stand out as a classy and adult affair, in contrast to the lighter entertainment fare that would have dominated the previous week or so.I did find it pretty good thanks to this, with a steady approach and decent tone, but yet I never really got drawn into it in the way I would have liked for a serious drama and well-told story. There are a few moments of suspense and chills here, but generally it doesn't build into anything bigger or more dramatic – the same steady approach that helps to found it, also undoes it in this regard. It has its merits and there is a certain satisfaction to it but it never really gets beyond the quality of its build to become something where you don't see the craftsmanship because of how strong the actual story is.The cast is part of that quality build and I did enjoy both Colman and Redgrave; the rest of the cast also has good quality turns – although Game of Thrones fans may find some of the casting a bit distracting! Direction and design of the film is of a high quality as I say – it looks good and feels weighty throughout. Shame that the delivery of the material didn't build better and didn't provide more in the way of chills and emotions. Perhaps it was too much going on in the small space available (with a couple of stories here) but it does feel lacking as a whole, even if the quality of the build is enjoyable to see.
This BBC psychological thriller drew on most of the established "givens" in what appeared to be a classic ghost story, with a big creepy house, a troubled governess, mysterious deaths, brooding Yorkshire moors, emotionally disturbed children and of course sightings of a ghostly lady in white. In fact, the twist is that it manages to subvert all these clichés and still produce a gripping story which holds the viewer until the end.Perhaps the story had a little too much going on, what with Olivia Colman's character's own big childhood secret ("everyone's got one", as Vanessa Redgrave's dying narrator repeatedly tells her), the romance between the married doctor and the fretful governess and the Agatha Christie-like succession of unexplained and apparently uninvestigated deaths, but with atmospheric direction and fine acting by the two leads in particular, both of whom resist the temptation to ham it up, they successfully draw the viewer into these improbable events.Yes, the twist about the mysterious twin sisters is fairly transparent from early on and it fails to deliver even one "jump out your chair" moment, but the story carefully explains away all the loose ends it throws up by the fiery conclusion. As I said the story's not exactly original, as becomes obvious when Colman twice on her own visits the old haunted house in time-honoured Tippi Hedren fashion, but my eyes were pretty much glued to it throughout, if not quite through my fingers I must say.
...not generally a fan of 'ghostly' stories but was curious to see the fine cast of The 13th Tale. It was gripping from the beginning, superb acting, stunningly pretty and horrid little girls, sensational sets and music which really helped keep the concentration - a marvellous production and of course original story. Having been drawn in, I was soon to be flabbergasted when I realised some of it was shot at Duncombe Park where I was at prep. school in the 60's - a first shot of the entrance gates, the drive and steps to the front door I knew at once! - a much loved place by most of us who were lucky enough then to have assembly and put on the Nativity Play in the main Saloon,walk through the doors onto the terrace, build dens around the Yew Walk and around the Temples, play on the same swing and around Father Time, admire the mahogany staircase only for the staff to use, peer down into the Main Hall with its chequerboard floor waiting for parents to arrive, have story time each evening with the Head whilst sitting round her on the floor of her Study, the Library... I was transfixed and quite horrified to see the house as burnt out shell!! How did you do that? overall a magnificent and moving production, just a perfect setting for the story... thank you to Heyman Productions and the BBC