A review by Cliff Homewood
Hammer’s back! The first film from a relaunched Hammer Studio with a new owner blasted all over it, John Gore, the award winning Theatre Producer.
Doctor Jekyll is a curiosity piece, starring Eddie Izzard in the main role. Reviews are average (as is the film) but agree Izzard is good. I thought he would be, always had a very relatable screen presence. Exuding warmth, you feel he cares, he’s always had that twinkle in his eye that makes him Izzard. Eddie now identifies as Suzy, although happy to use her old name for marketing purposes. So Doctor Jekyll’s about Nina Jekyll and Rachel Hyde. Rachel Hyde incidentally is a Production Manager on films like the recent Mission Impossible entries. I wonder if this is an in-joke or accident.
The first thought on a female Jekyll & Hyde, is it would be interesting if the change included a sex change, thus including commentary on the modern world. Alas this wasn’t to be, that concept was done in 1971 with Dr Jekyll & Sister Hyde (we’ll ignore the 1995 Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde (14% on RottenTomatoes!) The sex of Jekyll & Hyde in this film was immaterial, would have worked as well with either. Hyde kills with cunning and stealth as opposed to strength in this portrayal. The film is called Doctor Jekyll and this is the case, it’s far more Jekyll then Hyde, as Hyde is the main attraction this can be somewhat disappointing but Izzard is good as Jekyll and the story is interesting. It’s a sequel to The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, that was then, this is now.
Scott Chambers is very good in the lead role of audience POV, Rob, called in to care for Nina Jekyll. His full name is Robert Louis Stevenson, so a nod to the writer of the novella. If they had paired Stevenson’s novella with his life story it would have made an interesting merger. But it’s just a reference. Robert Louis Stevenson lived a life of ill health and was bedbound when he wrote Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde. Dr Jekyll therefore could have been his physician and he would be helpless to intercede when he saw what was occurring. Also of interest, the novel came out in 1886, the play opened in London in 1888. Within a month of it opening Jack the Ripper was terrorising the East End. So if had gone that story route Hyde could have been Jack the Ripper (and the actor who played Hyde on stage was at one point accused!)
I enjoyed the story told, which unravels as a mystery, hence scant details here. It’s a very low budget film so the setting is limited, though I wouldn’t have known if uninformed. Simon Callow cameos. The mystery builds and unravels at its own slow pace, but I was never bored. Nina Jekyll being an intriguing figure. The original tale unfolded well although it was a bit questionable at the end.
A film to be enjoyed when you don’t want anything special, just to entertain … and then ultimately forget. Eddie Izzard as Jekyll & Hyde? Oh yeah, I saw that once.