In theaters this Friday from director Lenny Abrahamson and Focus Features comes a story of twists and ghost with “The Little Stranger.”
Dr. Faraday (Domhnall Gleeson) is the local town doctor who has a strange affinity for a place called Hundreds Hall. His mother was a housemaid in the employment of the Ayres family when Faraday was a child. Now, it is 1948 and the Ayres family calls upon Dr. Faraday to take care of one of their own.
Arriving at Hundreds Hall, he meets Roderick Ayres (Will Poulter) who was hurt in the war and still suffers horribly. Roderick tells Faraday that he keeps the family books and is responsible for making sure there is a family income – even if it means selling parcels of Hundreds Hall. Sister Caroline (Ruth Wilson) wants to help her brother and when it is suggested that there might be new methods to help, she is on board. Mrs. Ayres (Charlotte Rampling) still keeps airs about the hall that was once a beacon of another time.
Also in Hundreds Hall is something eerie that Roderick seems to be keenly aware that something resides in their home. No one listens believing that it is part of Roderick’s state of being and after an incident; Faraday believes it is in the best interest to send him away.
In the meantime, Faraday strikes up a relationship with Caroline seeking a kindred spirit. They are both needing moments away from Hundreds Hall and their talks are something both look forward too. Faraday begins to see that he is needed at Hundreds Hall to keep Mrs. Ayers and his beloved Caroline safe from whatever lurks in the shadows.
Slowly, the relationships begin to become strained and change because everyone has their own fears and secrets which are about to change the destiny of them all.
Gleeson as Faraday once again proves why he grows more and more bold about the roles he takes. Becoming widely known as Bill Weasley with the “Harry Potter” franchise, his career began ten years earlier in the television series “Rebel Heart.” In the following years, he has put his stamp on such films as “Calvary,” “Unbroken,” “Ex Machina, “The Revenant” and taking on the role of General Hux in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.” I have come really enjoy each and everything he does from drama to comedy and everything in between. Here, Gleeson as Faraday is staunch, gripping and isn’t going to let anybody in on anything – not for any frame of the film. All of it is a set up for a great conversation after the film.
Wilson as Caroline is a young woman who seems to be a fixture in Hundreds Hall instead of a resident. Clearly dealing with family issues and secrets of her own, Wilson gives her character vulnerability wrapped up in a front that is almost as crumbly as the walls surrounding her. Wilson was recently seen in the drama “The Affair” and in “The Little Stranger” has the same stoic appearance and ability to hide within herself. The film also puts Wilson and Gleeson together again as they both can be seen in the 2012 film “Anna Karenina.”
Poulter as Roderick is absolutely stunning and I mean stunning in his role. He completely captured my attention and although the role might not be a large one, its impact caught me. Yes, the role is that of a disfigured person but Poulter could have put a bag over his head and I’d have loved his portrayal of Roderick.
Now, Ms. Rampling as Mrs. Ayers – I am a huge fan of Ms. Rampling’s and to see her in this role just reminds me (as if I needed it) that she is a jewel that only remains bright. I find her to be amazing and riveting to watch and in “The Little Stranger” she reinforces my belief that the actresses I grew up admiring deserve every bit of it.
Other cast include Kate Phillips as Diana Baker-Hyde, Anna Madeley as Anne Granger, Camilla Arfwedson as Young Mrs. Ayers, Dixie Egerickx as Gillian Baker-Hyde, Amy Marston as Mrs. Blundell, Sarah Crowden as Miss Dabney and Loren MacFadyen as Dr. Calder
“The Little Stranger” is a slow moving film but has all the nuances of a genre that wants to invest in your time. There is no hurry in bringing you along for the ride because it is 1948 in an era that has a lot of secrets in a society that prides itself on those secrets.
Surrounded by the walls of Hundreds Hall, the characters play out family secrets, pains best kept unspoken and realities that each of them don’t want to face. There is time to get to know each character yet with the time restraints you feel as if you have to believe what’s being told – even though there is an itch that says not to.
I love that about this film as well as the cinematography, the era clothing, cars and attitudes that play into the storytelling. Of course, I am a little partial to films like “The Little Stranger” in that I don’t want to know everything because it takes away from the great after film chats that I get into.
In the end – from small acorns dark mysteries grow!