We Have Always Lived in the Castle

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Three remaining members of the Blackwood family reside in near isolation until a distant relative arrives, threatening the family fortune and the family secrets.

The Highs
Some of the cinematography is nice. Most of the outdoor scenes are beautiful, and the space of the mansion is captured well.

The performances here are good in the sense that there isn’t any horrible acting.

The Lows
Let’s start with the plot. I’ll be honest – I have literally no idea what this film is trying to convey. I couldn’t tell you one thing about any of the characters portrayed here, nor about their stories. I thought, at first, that it was going to be a tale of real witches persecuted by the townsfolk. I suppose We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a family drama, but even then it is jumbled and confused and ultimately uninteresting. The film ends as it begins – with the audience knowing nothing about the characters and caring even less.

The performances are bland and uninspired. That is not to say that the acting is bad, simply that it is lifeless. The script doesn’t help in any way, as most of the conversations are either dull or baffling or both. I couldn’t recount one meaningful interaction in this film, aside from the very end where Merricat (Taissa Farmiga) admits to the poisoning of her family. I suppose this was meant to be some kind of a surprise, but it was telegraphed blatantly throughout.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle could have been a film about mental illness, about the effects of trauma on individuals and how they cope with it. It could have examined Julian (Crispin Glover) and shown how his remaining family responded to his deteriorating mental state. It could have focused on Merricat and the rituals she employed to ward off what she considered evil, how her mind used the idea of magic to deal with the fact that she murdered her family members. Sadly, none of this is remotely explored.

The real issue with We Have Always Lived in the Castle is that it is very tedious and very boring. The film begins and ends with the same scene, and little of import occurs in between. While the run-time is only 90 minutes, it easily feels twice that long. I started checking my phone after the first 20 minutes, and that is never a good sign.

Final Thoughts
We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a tiresome, banal film that holds no entertainment value and ultimately has nothing important to convey.

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