Wednesday night is our new date night. After dropping off Sammy with Kyrie, we grabbed some quick food at Sushi Tomo on University in Palo Alto (not very good, sorry — Kimi hated her zaru soba, and the tempura was a little off, but the spicy tuna was ok). Then it was time for Pan’s Labyrinth at the Cinearts, where we arrived ten minutes late but just in time for the opening scene.
It’s hard to review this movie without revealing too much of the plot. I first have to say this: Do not take children. We were warned this was an intense film, but “intense” is too mild a word to describe the movie. A better word might be “brutal” but you could also add in “shocking” and “relentless.” The commercials that I’ve seen (or more accurately, the commercials I fast-forwarded through) give the impression of a gentle but sad and dark fairy tale. You’re better off expecting a violent war film with certain fightening fantastical elements.
Now that your expectations are set, the film is beautifully made, written in perfect balance, acted with rare skill, and fully deserving of the Oscar for Best Foreign Film of 2006. It walks a delicate line between its fairy tale theme and its rebels vs. soldiers war story, and more than once I thought it was unraveling, only to realize I was being led deeper into the maze. There are certain foreshadowing elements that should have been a little less emphasized, but overall this is a film that will be haunting me for months. I recommend it highly as long as you have a strong stomach for violence; there were three or four scenes Kimi could not watch. Despite all that, it is a rare and breathtaking masterpiece.
Rant: “Pan’s Labyrinth” is a bit misleading as a translation of the Spanish title, El Laberinto del Fauno. I didn’t know the real Spanish title until afterwards, and so based on the English title, I expected Pan himself to show up or be referenced; a better title would be “The Fawn’s Labyrinth.”
Postscript: If you’ve seen the film, check out the interesting trivia.