Mary Reilly (film)
Theatrical Release Poster
|Directed by||Stephen Frears|
|Produced by||Norma Heyman
Nancy Graham Tanen
|Written by||Christopher Hampton|
|Based on||Mary Reilly
by Valerie Martin
|Music by||George Fenton|
|Edited by||Lesley Walker|
|Distributed by||TriStar Pictures|
Mary Reilly is a 1996 American film directed by Stephen Frears and starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich. The movie was written by Christopher Hampton and adapted from the novel Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin (itself inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). This was the re-teaming of director Frears, screenwriter Hampton, and actors Malkovich and Glenn Close, all of whom were involved in the Oscar-winning Dangerous Liaisons (1988).
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Mary Reilly is a servant in the home of Dr. Henry Jekyll. A friendship between Mary and the doctor develops, which becomes an attraction. The doctor takes an interest in Mary, confiding in her and she in him; specifically she tells him of abuse she suffered at her father's hands. After Mary and the Doctor spend a considerable time talking one morning as she brings him his breakfast; the head of the household staff, Mr Poole challenges Mary's story that the two of them were discussing the planting a garden, thinking that she lied. Upon being discreetly questioned by Poole, the doctor deftly covers for Mary and says that the garden they talked about is "the very thing" needed in the house. However, the household is thrown into turmoil when the master announces he will be getting an assistant. The staff speculate on his employment and origins, as he is never fully seen and remains a mystery.
While delivering his breakfast, Jekyll asks her to deliver a letter to a Mrs. Farraday, the madam of a whorehouse. The madam agrees to let an apartment to the doctor's assistant, who is the sinister Edward Hyde. Curious, Mary follows him into the doctor's lab one night, where she witnesses Hyde handing over a cheque for blood money. She then hides in the lab because the exit door is locked. She is terrified as Hyde discovers her hiding place, but he merely throws her a key. The next morning, she finds Jekyll in the yard with a sprained ankle.
The following morning, Jekyll wakes her with another letter for Mrs. Farraday. When she arrives at the brothel, the madam is furious. She shows Mary the room that has been let to Hyde, which is covered in blood. Mary returns to the house with a blood-stained handkerchief of Jekyll's, as well as a message from Farraday promising to do what is necessary to conceal the bloody event.
Mary finally meets the enigmatic Edward Hyde and finds herself drawn towards his passionate nature. However, she is also upset when he reveals that he knows intimate details about her conversations with the Doctor. In turn, Mary challenges the Doctor about this and the doctor claims that he made notes about their conversations out of habit: thus, Hyde looked at the Doctor's notes without his knowledge. The next day, when Mary delivers Jekyll's breakfast, he asks her to accompany Hyde on an errand. They visit the slaughterhouse yard to collect organs for the doctor's research. Upon their return, Hyde torments Mary, asking if she is aware of how much Jekyll longs to touch her.
While fetching tea for Hyde, she answers the door to find Mrs. Farraday, who insists on seeing Jekyll. Jekyll is not pleased to see Farraday, who demands more money for her continued silence. Mary leaves them alone, but while watering the garden, she notices the lights in the lab go out. Investigating, she discovers a small pool of blood on the theater table. She does not see Hyde, who is hidden and has killed Mrs Farraday.
Mary receives a letter informing her that her mother has died. Intending to give her mother a proper burial, she goes out into the fog to find a funeral parlor. She is grabbed in an alley by Hyde, who is being chased by mounted police. He hides behind her as they rush by. He thanks her for being in the right place at the right time, and kisses her before leaving. When she returns to the house, she is questioned by the police, in connection to the murder of Jekyll's school friend and a politician, Sir Danvers Carew. Mary denies having seen Hyde today. Later, Jekyll says she shouldn't have lied on Hyde's behalf and while Danvers may have been "corrupt and frivolous," he never deserved to be murdered. He reveals that he has dismissed Hyde and bribed him to disappear.
Days later, when delivering breakfast, Mary is surprised to discover Hyde in the doctor's bed. She tries to raise the alarm, but he stops her. Hyde then reveals to her his true nature. He explains that the doctor injects himself with a serum; a cure for his depression, and that Hyde is the resulting cure. He in turn injects the 'antidote' to resume being Jekyll. He said that he now has the ability to appear without the aid of Jekyll's serum. Hyde then tries to persuade her to have sex with him. Shocked, Mary wishes to leave. He releases her, and she joins her colleagues in the kitchen. They are interrupted by Jekyll, who orders Poole to take a sample of a potion to the chemists and ask them to analyze it. He is to wait until they are successful, as this is a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, Poole returns unsuccessfully.
Mary packs her things to leave, but on her way out, she decides to visit the lab. Hyde attacks her, smashing bottles all around. He holds a knife to her throat, but does not kill her. He says that he always knew that Mary "would be the death of us." He then injects himself with the antidote, and Mary is forced to witness the horrific transformation between one man to the other. Jekyll reveals that Hyde has mixed a poison with the antidote. He then dies in Mary's arms. In the morning, Jekyll, although dead, has transformed into Hyde one last time, awake and smiling, as Mary walks into the fog.
- Julia Roberts: Mary Reilly
- John Malkovich: Dr. Henry Jekyll / Edward Hyde
- Michael Sheen: Bradshaw
- George Cole: Mr. Poole
- Kathy Staff: Mrs. Kent
- Bronagh Gallagher: Annie
- Glenn Close: Mrs. Farraday
- Michael Gambon: Mr. Reilly
- Ciarán Hinds: Sir Danvers Carew
Producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber acquired the film rights to Mary Reilly in 1989, and optioned them for Warner Bros. with Roman Polanski as director. When Guber became CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment later that year, he moved Mary Reilly to Sony's sister company, TriStar Pictures, where Tim Burton was approached to direct with Denise Di Novi to produce in 1991. Christopher Hampton was hired to write the screenplay, and Burton signed on as director in January 1993, after he approved Hampton's rewrite. He intended to start filming in January 1994, after he completed Ed Wood, with Winona Ryder  in the leading role but Burton dropped out in May 1993 over his anger against Guber for putting Ed Wood in turnaround. Stephen Frears was TriStar's first choice to replace Burton, and Di Novi was fired and replaced with Ned Tanen. Daniel Day-Lewis was TriStar's first choice for the role of Dr. Jekyll and Uma Thurman for the role of Mary.
Critical and commercial reception
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Reports of alleged production delays and animosity between the two leads helped fuel the poor word-of-mouth preceding the film's release. Upon release, the reviews were decidedly negative, with few critics finding anything to praise about the production. Many found fault with Roberts, calling her 'miscast' (though Malkovich, too, received his fair share of ill mention). The film did not do well at the box office. It earned a paltry $5.6 million domestically on a budget of $47 million and grossed only $12.3 million worldwide. Mary Reilly currently holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 reviews with the consensus stating: "Mary Reilly looks good and has its moments but overall, the movie borders on boredom."
Roberts was nominated for Worst Actress by the Razzie Awards, with Stephen Frears also being nominated for Worst Director, but lost to Striptease. The film was also entered into the 46th Berlin International Film Festival.
- "Mary Reilly - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 16 August 2011.
- Claudia Eller (1993-01-11). "Fox mulls playing 'Pat' hand; TriStar woos Woo". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Claudia Eller (1993-05-03). "Burton's off 'Reilly'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Staff (1993-02-04). "TriStar Pictures slate for 1993". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Mary Reilly (1996) - Box office / business
- "1996 RAZZIE® Nominees & "Winners"". Retrieved 6 July 2011.
- "Berlinale: 1996 Programme". berlinale.de. Retrieved 2012-01-01.