This movie was bizarre, not just with a capital B – all caps, underlined, exclamation point. We are all familiar with the Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde story – I’ve been banging on about it for the last two days. I decided that I wanted to watch a couple of newer film adaptations & stumbled upon Mary Reilly (1996) starring Julia Roberts as Mary & John Malkovich as Jekyll & Hyde. This was a freak show from start to finish.
Mary is Jekyll’s maid who might be Welsh or possibly Irish… I’ll just say that Roberts’ talents don’t include accents. It’s obvious that she has experienced something particularly traumatic in her life & the doctor is curious about Mary. He presses her on how she received various bite marks on her arms & neck. Eventually, Mary tells the doctor that her father let a rat chew her up as punishment for breaking a tea cup. After that, her mother put her into service & she never saw her parents again. It’s close to this point that Jekyll informs his staff that he is taking an assistant who will have the run of the house. Mary has noticed odd things about the doctor’s coming & goings but nothing terribly alarming.
One evening though Jekyll sends Mary on an errand to see a Mrs. Farraday who obviously runs a brothel. He requests that Farraday accommodate Hyde in her boarding rooms which she agrees to. Shortly thereafter, Mary is awoken by the crying of a girl & when she sneaks into the doctor’s study sees a note for Blood Money. She starts to suspect something is wrong with the doctor but she has yet to encounter the elusive Hyde.
Jekyll dispatches Mary once again to Farraday’s with a note but this time she’s much less benevolent. It is clear that Hyde murdered one of the girls at the brothel & Farraday is asked to keep it hushed up. From here on, Mary encounters Hyde a number of times even accompanying him to a meat market for the doctor. Malkovich does a tremendous job of altering his mannerisms just enough to appear as two completely different personalities. Even so, the house staff start to suspect there’s something not quite right going on. He tends to go in & out of character around Mary in particular & she starts covering for his odd behavior at times.
Eventually, Farraday comes to collect more hush money from the good doctor & Hyde murders her. As if things weren’t weird enough, Mary’s mother dies & she encounters her father at her funeral. On her way home, Mary encounters Hyde running from the police after committing yet another murder. He kisses Mary & says she will never see him again.
Cue downward spiral, running out of the secret chemicals & death by poisoning. This time though, Jekyll manages to revert back to himself only to find that Hyde laced the antidote with poison thus killing them both. Mary witnesses the final transformation affirming what she had already mostly concluded.
This film was…off-putting. From the dank atmosphere to the the tragedy of Mary, it really was horrific. I didn’t enjoy the addition of a love story to the original plot. I think what made this so bizarre was that it was really a love triangle. Mary was infatuated with Jekyll & he obviously had some feelings for her but could only express this when he was Hyde who was abhorrent. Glenn Close as Farraday was brilliant even if her character had very little screen time. I just didn’t care for Roberts’ performance, she was overly snivelly & that accent…
Have you seen this one? It was certainly unique 🧡