WE HAVE ALWAYS LIVED IN THE CASTLE
A film by Stacie Passon
based on the book “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” by Shirley Jackson
Starring Taissa Farmiga, Alexandra Daddario,
Sebastian Stan, and Crispin Glover
SYNOPSIS: Merricat lives with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. The trio are survivors of an arsenic poisoning that killed everyone else in the family five years prior. Merricat is bold and imaginative, and protects the property with “spells”. Despite being hated by the townspeople, the sisters live an idyllic life, until cousin Charles arrives. Charles offers to help around the house, and inquires about the family’s finances. Constance is charmed by Charles, and Merricat resents Charles’ intrusion. As Charles and Merricat battle for control, tragedy threatens to strike again.
There is a heavily literary feel to the structure, script, and performances. If you consider yourself a reader, these aspects will delight you. This all makes perfect sense since it’s based on Shirley Jackson‘s novel. Taissa Farmiga has given us a gorgeous portrayal of Mary Catherine. The specificity of her facial expressions, her physicality, and her tone is a master class in character acting. Sebastian Stan is entirely unlikable in his charm and clearly underlying intentions. His strong presence will make you squirm just as it does the other Blackwood family members. Alexandra Daddario is as elegant and she is uneasy with her plastered on smile. Obviously hiding true emotion on the outside, it’s the moments when the stare lingers a touch too long in which we are suspicious and fearful of her truth. Crispin Glover, who ages at a snail’s pace, is a complex, almost ancillary uncle character with what seems like bouts of early onset dementia. As the only other survivor of their dark tragedy, his idea of a memoir drives his protection of his nieces and the family legacy. This story is filled to the brim with mystery. There are so many assumptions and unanswered backstory questions, but that didn’t stop me in any way from enjoying the hell out of it. It’s the darkness that keeps your interest. The music, costumes, and sets are delicious. With elements of magic, superstition, and greed, We Have Always Lived In The Castle is stylistically engrossing.