Page 1 of 3
John Cusack is a fine casting choice here, but The Raven's tell-tale heart never quite picks up a beat....
Fox / 111 Minutes / 2012 / Rated R / Street Date: October 9, 2012
John Cusack never gets the credit he deserves. Every now and then a movie like Say Anything... or High Fidelity will be enough to remind his viewing public just how much we've always loved him, but even with a seasoned, multi-decade career under his belt, he somehow still feels underutilized, as though he's not living up to his inimitable potential as both an actor and a star.
Part of this, unfortunately, is due to the fact that at least in the last few years, Cusack has been taking parts in off-kilter, ultimately bad projects. We can't point solely at 2012 as an example of this, but whether it's Serendipity or that hideous 1408 Stephen King adaptation he starred in, our buddy John has been misfiring the last few times out. Yeah, he was one of the battalion of talented actors who took a chance (and won) with Terry Malick in The Thin Red Line, but as a mainstay, he hasn't been sealing the deal.
He sure gives it the ol' college try in The Raven, though - I'll give him that. In this tragically undernourished fantasia about the later days of the American writer's life, Cusack latches into his performance with gusto and fearlessness, lending a beating heart to the all-too-frequently pedantic story elements that keep The Raven anchored. This ain't no biopic, after all - in addition to tending to Edgar Allen Poe's heavy drinking, his tricky new love with his ladyfriend, and a seriously bad case of in-laws (Brendan Gleeson doesn't care for Edgar one bit), a murder takes place, one that mimics the acts in Poe's own The Murders in the Rue Morgue that adds detective work to Eddie's list of things to do.
In short, Cusack's a fine presence, and there are moments where The Raven shivers with a sturdy eeriness, but as the movie finishes up, it's obvious that there really just anything under the hood here. Neither dumb pseudo-horror fluff or incisive biography, The Raven is a loud and rowdy mess, a movie that uses every trick in the book to try to connect with viewers, but none of them stick. John deserves better.