Orphan is the story of Esther (Isabelle Fuhrman), a Russian orphan adopted by a Canadian family. But Esther isn’t as sweet and innocent as everyone thought.
I know they say nothing is perfect, and I believe that. To an extent. This film, for example, is perfect. This film, much like The Ring before it, is a horror film which doesn’t resort to cheap scares to scare you. It teases them, but doesn’t use them. Everything about this movie just feels perfect. even the way the basketball bounces off the house at the beginning is perfect. In my opinion.
The film starts in a nightmare of Kate (Vera Farmiga) where she loses a child in a very disturbing way, and the only scene that really shows any blood. When Kate wakes up, it’s quickly revealed that the nightmare was at least partially true.We are then introduced to Maxine, Kate’s deaf-mute eight year old daughter. This leads to a scene that is very powerful emotionally, and hasn’t any sound. Max takes out her hearing aid before going to sleep and all sound stops. Kate does sign language and there is subtitles for the rest of the scene.
There are loads of things that don’t need to be in this movie, but are and improve it anyway. Throughout the film, it’s implied (but never fully explained) that Kate got drunk one night and Max fell through thin ice. That’s not essential to the plot, but there it is throughout the film. About halfway through, there is a scene where Kate and her husband, John (Peter Sarsgaard), are arguing and she mentions that he cheated on her ten years prior, but he only told him two years before. This comes out of nowhere, and is never mentioned again, but it shows that their marriage isn’t as perfect as we’ve been made to believe up until this point.
This film was controversial at the time of release, because adoption agencies feared that it would talk people out of adopting kids. I must admit, they get away with bunch of stuff in this movie, doing things I’ve never seen before. For example, here is a close-up of Max’s face…
. . . . .Esther has a gun pointed to the head of an 8 year old girl. We saw Esther load the gun. We watched her pull the hammer down. This is something heavy! Please, go out and adopt a kid today! Like, NOW!
I think the reason this movie got away with so much is because of the ending. I won’t spoil anything, because this movie is still somewhat new-ish, and not everyone has seen it, so it’s not the type of twist ending you can spoil (Bruce Willis is dead in The Sixth Sense. Rosebud is a sled in Citizen Kane. Jesus dies in Passion of the Christ).
I would list all the things I find perfect about this movie, but I feel that listing them would ruin the movie. As I said, even the way the basketball rolls at the beginning feels perfect to me. I’ve never liked sex scenes in movies, and I hate how they always try to find some way to slip one in, even if it’s out of nowhere. In this movie, there is one, and it’s in a kitchen, but it’s actually relevant to the plot.
But in order to find out why and how, you have to watch the movie. If you don’t, Maxine will get shot in the head.