Saturday, December 05, 2009

The title font for Orphan provides a not-so subtle hint for what’s about to come. A clean, ordered typeface suddenly changes to some jagged handwriting. Oh, so not everything is as it seems? This orphan is more John Doe than Annie?

There must be lots of concerns when you’re a parent. Will my child be healthy? Will my child be smart? Will my child grow into a giant douchebag and appear on Tool Academy? But when you’re adopting, those concerns must be amplified. After all, with the fruit of your loins you must have a fair idea of what to expect. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, they say. But an adoptive child might be the product of drug addicts, drunks or Mormons. You never quite know what to expect.

These concerns don’t appear to bother Kate and John. Despite the fact that they have two healthy children, they still decide they want to adopt. And they want to adopt because they lost a baby. They want to share the love they would have given their child with an orphan that desperately needs a home.

This is all very commendable, but you have a feeling that the parents in this film kind of rush into their choice. They wander around an orphanage, find a loner Russian that can paint and decide that they want to adopt her. Don’t any alarm bells ring? First of all, she has an accent. Secondly, she doesn’t interact with other children. Thirdly, her family died in a house fire. And lastly she’s far too creative. Hmm, foreign, anti-social, creative type who lives in her own head and whose family mysteriously died in a house fire that she survived. Yeah, this isn’t a good sell. I think the parents should have continued to peruse the used kid lot.

But because the kid is cute and because she can paint a little, Kate and John take her home. Just like Angelina, they now have a cute little foreigner to add to their brood.

Despite all the talk of Kate losing a child, you can’t help but wonder if this adoption is actually a way of improving upon the parents’ first daughter. You see, the parents have a deaf child. And while they love her very much, she does annoying things like loudly play basketball as mummy is trying to compose. So their fuck-generated offspring amounts to a wearisome boy and a defective girl. Hmm. Now I can understand why they went with the store bought Russian.

Part of the attraction of adopting a Russian girl must be the hope that she’ll grow up to be an Anna Kournikova type, or one of the ‘lesbians’ from t.A.T.u. – hot pieces of ass that earn spondoolicks galore. A fear, though, must be that the beauty will wither in the hotter climate and turn into an unsightly babushka.

The adoption starts well. Esther gets on with her new sister and everything is pretty harmonious. Sure Daniel (their son) might be a bit pissed off, but that’s boys for you, isn’t it? Every second they’re not masturbating is pure misery.

Eventually, though, some cracks begin to emerge. First of all, Esther interrupts some sex so that she can cuddle up to her father like a future Soon-Yi Previn. Secondly, Esther displays some awesome pigeon splattering skills.

In this scene, the tedious boy injures a pigeon with his paint gun. But because he’s a giant pussy, he can’t put it out of its misery. So Esther decides to step up to the plate and squash it with a huge rock. I’m sure a bop on the head would have been enough to off the feathered rat, but Esther doesn’t like to do things by halves. She literally pancakes it.

Things only get worse after this. In another scene Esther goes mental when some kids rip up her Bible and try to remove her choker. She screams so loud that it seems like she’s trying to make their heads explode.

After all of this, some people might admit that they adopted a wrong ‘un. But John remains blissfully ignorant. He thinks Esther is fantastic. He doesn’t even notice when Esther pushes a child out of the top of a slide and the kid breaks her ankle. Daddy is too busy puffing on a cigar.

John’s stupidity and blindness is hilarious in this film. Not only is his back turned when his kid almost kills another child but he also gets fooled into thinking that his wife breaks Esther’s arm. The truth is that the deceitful Ruskie snaps her own arm in a vice. These ex-Commies are hardcore.

Later Esther tries to burn Daniel to death and John still doesn’t think that anything is wrong. Then Esther tries to smother Daniel to death while he’s in hospital recovering from the attempted burning and daddy still doesn’t cotton on. Is he really that dumb or is he picturing all the money that could be made if he could harness this kid’s insanity and turn her into a Grand Slam winning tennis player and/or Eurovision-winning fake gay pop star? No, I really think he is that dumb.

The fact that daddy doesn’t suspect Esther is guilty of any wrongdoing makes the hospital bitchslap scene even more hilarious than it already is. There’s the adopted apple of his eye drinking a Coke and suddenly Kate drops her with an open-handed haymaker. Boom! Bitch goes down! But then to add to the hysteria of the scene, mummy gets sedated by some doctors and nurses. Wow, they really work quick in hospitals now. You slap someone and its out with the needles. No need for security guards.

For the whole film, daddy thinks that mummy is being a silly hormone-ridden, hysterical bitch. But then as he downs some wine with mummy sedated in hospital, Esther tries to seduce him. She wears a pretty dress, some make-up, calls him handsome and makes a cock move, but John is appalled. He needs at least another couple of years before he can consider upgrading his daughter into his future wife.

Unfortunately, though, Esther has achieved the peak of her femininity. She’s not a nine-year-old after all. She’s actually a thirty-three-year-old Estonian dwarf. She’s not even fucking Russian!

The film’s final act is a crazy piece of cinema. A drunken John gets stabbed to death by the dwarf (who reveals herself to have terrible teeth – not even her gnashers are real!) and then Kate and Esther fight to the death. As is standard in these stupid types of films, Esther is almost as impervious as The Terminator. First of all Kate does a big splash through a green house and Esther survives. Then Kate and Esther fall into some ice and Esther survives. And then Esther manages not to drown. However, she finally succumbs when mummy kicks her in the head and she breaks her neck. Well, she’s dead until they decide to make a sequel.

All of this is pretty pathetic and very entertaining at the same time. The film doesn’t add anything new to the demon seed sub-genre (except for the fact that the child is secretly an Estonian dwarf) but it still manages to make for a fairly fun ride. There are certainly hints of desperation from the director (lame attempts to build tension with clichéd ‘will someone pop out from behind the fridge or appear in the mirror’ shots) but the screenplay is sensational enough to always hold one’s interest. A nun gets slayed, a dwarf covers her room with pornographic paintings and a mother bitch slaps her adopted child. This is all bad cinema gold.

As for what the film says about adoption, well, it seems to be caveat emptor. You might strike lucky and get a future Kournikova or you might get an Estonian dwarf. Better to buy American. You can never be sure of what you’re getting when you plump for a cheap Eastern European import. They might look good on the outside but they’re often full of bad wiring (evils like insanity and socialism). However, the good thing about adoption is that if things don’t work out you can kill your child with a pithy remark and a kick to the head and not feel bad about it. After all, deep down they’re not really your kid, are they? You might pretend that they are but they came from a stranger’s vagina. Therefore they’re as disposable as a TV. Maybe even more so. After all, when has a television tried to shoot your deaf daughter? Huh? Huh?

P.S. – The film deserves an award for the most hilarious treatment of alcoholism. Kate is addicted to the bottle and eventually loses her resolve and ends up going to an off licence. Cue massive close-up of a neon sign reading ‘Liquor’. All the scene needed was some saxophone music. Poor boozehound mommy.

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  1. "Bad cinema gold," amen. The weirdest part was when Esther tried to seduce drunken John, and the film does stupid tricks like blurring her face, and really pumping up John's idiocy, "Whaa, you want me to put my arm around you... mmkay... Mm... yeah, you're really beautiful tonight..." until the full stop and reversal, "What, no I don't fuck you!" I thought they should have found a more natural way to turn the scene around than changing his personality on a dime.

    However, by the way, I thought the twist where they reveal she's an old Estonian was really, really well done. Totally unexpected, totally screwball, and totally revealed at just the right time when she's getting rejected by drunken John. A nice line from the foreign doctor: "Surely you noticed her scars??" Ohhhhh!