Saturday, October 19, 2013

I Wish I Had the Power of Telekinesis Like Carrie!

I’ve always wished I had the power of telekinesis. I could lie in bed and raise my hand and my book would float across the room into my hands.

I could also take mean people and throw them over a house or something. That’s how I feel in Massachusetts from time to time where the people, in my experience, are an abrasive lot that go out of their way to be unkind.

One time on a rainy day in December, the only parking space I could find at the Hyannis Mall was in the middle of a huge puddle. I parked there and had to step through the puddle on the heels of my sneakers. Some guy took the trouble to drive by and say, “You fucking stupid son of a bitch.” Wow! What did I do to him? If I had telekinesis, I could lift his car and flip it over. In the nearby pond!

That’s like the time I was walking down a street in Cambridge one sunny day. Yeah, it was sunny, but it was still winter in the shade, so I was wearing my parka. Someone drove by and yelled, “Take off your coat, you idiot. It’s springtime.” If I had had telekinesis, I could have tossed him and his car in the Charles River that was probably still icy cold.

And just last night as I was walking across the parking lot after seeing Carrie, someone drove by and made a rude comment about the shoulder bag I use to carry my iPad. If I had telekinesis, I could hang his car from a tree.

That said, there is absolutely nothing subtle about Kimberley Peirce’s remake of Carrie. Every scene is exaggerated overkill. It starts with the bloody birth of Carrie by her Jesus-freakish mother (Julianne Moore, who plays the psycho to chilling effect). Carrie’s mother believes her baby is a cancer delivered by God to punish her for having sex.

Immediately following that scene, the shy teenaged Carrie has her period in the gym showers. She freaks out and ALL the girls in the locker room laugh at her, bombard her with a pile of tampons and sanitary napkins, and jeer, “Plug it up! Plug it up!” Peirce’s depiction of the cruelty suffered by someone who is different echoes her depiction of the cruelty toward the transsexual Brendan Teena (Hilary Swank) in Boys Don’t Cry, but here the cruelty is stretched beyond the believable into lurid hyperbole.

Without any sort of eerie, mysterious development, Carrie discovers she has telekinesis, and no time is wasted getting to the shattered mirrors and levitated furniture. But as this needless remake continues, the excellent performance of Chloë Grace Moretz shines through the comic book tone. She provides the only subtle, touching moments, as she makes her own prom dress and begins to see her muted beauty emerge after a cruel upbringing.

The strength of the film is that it works dramatically on our expectations. We know what unbelievable cruelty the bad girls are planning. We know how Carrie’s magical prom night will turn out. As she puts on her dress and her makeup, Moretz as Carrie made me cry. I shed a tear for Carrie, the innocent victim of horrible meanness, and I found myself on the edge of my seat, cringing, knowing what is going to happen.

That’s how this film finally works. When Carrie, streaked with blood, glares demonically and her sinuous arms start the real ball rolling, man, you want to stand up and cheer! I like how Carrie spares the few good people and punishes the mean ones horribly. This is a scene of glorious retribution exacted upon inhuman humans. God, how I wish I had telekinesis!

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