This film by director Carol Reed (The Third Man, Our Man in Havana) has been waiting in my collection 2 years for me have the time watch it. Based on the story «The Basement Room» by Graham Greene, who also wrote the screenplay. Green also wrote the films Reed directed I mentioned already as well. A formidable film making team to be sure.
Visually this film is beautiful, the images dense, sharp and the composition of each frame incredibly compelling. The story, however is a little odd... the characters are not very appealing and the plot straddles the line between drama and comedy... but the comedy isn’t all that funny and the drama is undermined by the unlikeable characters.
The young child who is the main focus of the story and his interpretation of events, which are coloured heavily by the fantastic stories the hotel concierge tells him, is an insufferable pest. Why the concierge (the child’s idol of sorts, I guess) pays him any attention at all is a mystery to me. The actor is fine but the character is a spoiled, selfish ignorant pain in the ass. The lead man is underplayed wonderfully, but a little too distant, no matter what happens. Even when he finds his wife dead at the foot of the grand staircase and is accused of her murder, he seems unmoved. The wife is portrayed as total bitter botch, though now and then you see signs of the pain she feels from the neglect of her husband and her knowledge he has been having an affair with a young woman behind her back.
The resolution of the whole affair seems ridiculous. The entire investigation of a woman’s death is seemingly based solely on the words of some horrible, confused boy who’s is hardly a reliable witness.
Worth seeing? Still I have to say yes. It’s just too visually impressive to dismiss but it doesn’t come up to the level of «The Third Man» in terms of other elements of the production, especially story telling.