Tideland is a film by Terry Gilliam. I know this because Terry himself opens the movie with a disclaimer. He tells the audience that they will probably not like this movie. Well. Why the hell am I watching it then, Terry? Oh yeah, because you're Terry Gilliam, my third favorite director, and you've never disappointed me. Not even with the Brothers Grimm. Gilliam is also responsible for Twelve Monkeys, Time Bandits, Brazil, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and of course, all of the Monty Python movies.
Gilliam says that I won't like this movie because it's disturbing. It centers on a little girl who suffers many hardships. She lives in a dump. She has doll-heads for friends. She is ignored by her rock-star parents (except when they need her to prepare their heroin). I'd say that's pretty disturbing. But that didn't bother me. Gilliam's disclaimer should have said, "You won't like this movie because it is very boring."
Of course, there will be people saying that this is a masterpiece. Even I found myself making excuses for him. But it's honestly not Gilliam caliber.
I believe that the point of this film is to show how a little girl escapes her every day problems in a realistic modern way. While there are subtle references to Alice in Wonderland, I wanted this film to be Alice in Wonderland. I wanted the creepy little chick to go Where the Wild Things Are or to the Land of Oz. Gilliam is so great at creating worlds for kids to get lost in and crazy characters to get lost with. Tideland, however, really lacks that kind of imagination. She doesn't go anywhere but the field behind her house. She meets two pointless people (a slow aqua-nut and a bee-fearing ghost-lady) that don't teach her anything or provide any real escape. She plays with one of them, and imagines that the field is an ocean and that a nearby train is a big shark, but otherwise the characters just sort of exist.
I understand that the film is based on a book and that Gilliam chose to stay true to the story. There's just so much potential here; so much room to add that personal touch. The scenery was creepy and the ghost-lady reminded me of a Time Bandits character, but honestly this could have been directed by someone else and I'd never know the difference.
The movie is very gruesome, but like I said, it didn't bother me all that much. If you have a weak stomach I don't suggest watching the movie. One scene involves the taxidermy of a human. My only concern has to do with the production of this movie and its affect on a 10-year-old girl. How do you prevent a child from emotional distress when she is required to act in a scene where drugs and sex are involved? I only hope that the producers considered the girl's well-being. We all see what Full House did to the Olsen twins.
1 severed doll head.