Film of the book: ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’ (2004)

Based on the first three books in Lemony Snicket’s dark and quirky series, this is an entertaining Tim Burton-ish film directed by Brad Silberling. I enjoyed it and found the tone quite similar to the books.

The story follows the adventures of the Baudelaire children, three siblings who lose their parents in a mysterious fire. The creepy Count Olaf, an actor, is given custody and they spend the rest of the film trying to foil his various attempts to gain access to their inheritance money. Jim Carrey is perfect for the role of Count Olaf, with his over-the-top acting style. The cast includes Billy Connolly as snake-obsessed Uncle Monty, Meryl Streep as grammar-stickler Aunt Josephine, Timothy Spall as clueless banker Mr Poe and Jude Law as the author himself, who’s typing out the story and (as in the books) frequently warning us that we’d be better off watching something about happy elves. The child actors are also very good: Emily Browning as the resourceful Violet, Liam Aiken as bibliophile Klaus, and Kara and Shelby Hoffman as baby Sunny.

I liked the Victorian-esque costumes and settings, which also have elements of the 1930s and 1960s. I don’t think it’s meant to be any specific place or era. There’s a gothic tone, with a dark palette. I was impressed with the animation during the end credits, which looked similar to the illustrations from the books. On that note, Klaus in the film certainly looks older and ‘cooler’ than his book counterpart, having lost his spectacles, bow-tie and formal suit.

The ending of the film is vague and leaves it open for a sequel that never happened. It’s therefore not a satisfying film, but for all its eccentric unreality does mirror real life – quite often the bad guys get away with it and the authorities can’t be relied upon.

Low-resolution image sourced from Wikipedia.

Have you subscribed to my FREE newsletters yet? Check them out here – N S Ford Writer and The Indie Books & Authors Newsletter.

Leave a Reply