The Crown Jewels (2011)
Starring Alicia Vikander, Bill Skarsgård and Loa Falkman
Directed by Ella Lemhagen
A friend of mine said that she liked my recasts/remake pitches so here am I to do it again. This time it’s for the Inside Out selection The Crown Jewels, a part of this year’s Scandinavian spotlight. And boy does it need a remake. It’s a movie set in the middle to the latter portion of the 20th century when well-tailored conservatism is starting to make way for the new generation and their punk rebellion. It’s the setting for a murder mystery or two, with some strange subplots involving a goldfish accompanying an underwater entity, a working class immigrated alchemist, a cruel shoe factory owner and a gay hockey player.
You’re thinking that the world doesn’t need any more English-language remakes of Scandinavian movies. But look at David Fincher, adding restraint to the vulgar Dragon Tattoo boo/movie. And mind you, I like the emotional weight of the conversations between characters in The Crown Jewels. However, the movie doesn’t establish its time-frame quite well. Some supporting characters are caricatures. It also needs to harness the fantasy better, this aspect feeling cluttered, thus asking its audience for too much to believe. And where are the titular crown jewels? In fixing these problems we first need a writer/director before looking at the characters.
Writer/director: Guillermo del Toro. He can juggle genre hybrids of fantasy, horror and real-life tragedy. His monsters and creatures don’t really scare as much as engender wonderment. His peers like Amenabar and Bayona, all three working within the Spanish-language horror, can only do this genre with a little bit of fantasy, but those guys probably have less on their plate than him. Now we move on to the actors.
Fragancia Fernandez, the strong-willed, tomboyish protagonist accused of the crime that occurs in the movie’s first scene. Originally played by Alicia Vikander.
My pick – Vanessa Hudgens. She’s the only character her (my?) age who can be conceivably called Fernandez. She’s normally too voluptuous and sweet but she shows slivers of toughness in movies like Sucker Punch. And there’s something castable about her, despite the mediocre stuff she’s been in. Carrying material like this might expand her horizon as well as our perspective of his former Disney good girl.
The movie also shows the younger characters played by two or three different actors, which is problematic. It’s hard enough to cast adult-aged characters and it’s going to be more difficult to cast younger actors, most of whom are unknown. But a younger Fragancia can be played by Hailee Steinfeld.
Richard Peerson, the poor little rich boy who dies within the first scene but returns in flashbacks, his life forever intertwined with Fragancia’s. He’s also bratty and destructive, a product of an abused childhood. Originally played by Bill Skarsgard, relation to Stellan and Alexander is questionable.
My pick – Michael Cera. He’s known to be weasel-like in most of his TV and movie work. But watch Scott Pilgrim again. Despite playing the same guy over and over again he’s a master of line readings and pacing. And I know someone reading this has seen Youth in Revolt and can vouch that he can play bad.
Mr. Peerson, Richard’s father who accidentally drops the latter when he was a baby. This trauma causes him to be abusive to his own son and wife. Originally played by Loa Falkman.
My pick – Jim Broadbent. I’m starting to notice that most Anglophone actors play more adorable roles than their gritty Swedish counterparts, but this Oscar winner has played his share of baddies, like a football club honcho in the underrated and underwatched The Damned United.
Petersson-Johnson, the new blonde boy in town who does flying pirouettes in the hockey rink. Age doesn’t stop him from those tricks but he can shoot a puck and land both Fragancia and a boyfriend. Originally played by Bjorn Gustafsson.
My pick – Anton Yelchin, who might be tired of playing high school kids but his young looks give him that versatility to play the character in two stages of his life. His acting gets mixed reviews but I like the physicality and sensitivity he’s shown in movies like Fright Night, where he also grows up to be a man.
Fernandez Fernandez, Franacia’s father who never gives up on his dreams to turn lead into gold. He also works in Mr. Peerson’s show factory. Originally played by Michalis Koutsogiannakis. He also played Lisbeth Salander’s boss in the original Dragon Tattoo movies.
My pick – Hugo Weaving, and I haven’t seen him in a movie in a long time. Known for playing tough villains like his role in The Matrix, the most vulnerable and paternal I’ve seen him is as V in V or Vendetta. And there’s something about his facial features that make him seem like a canvas of emotion.
Pastor Hjalmar, a minor role. Like most of the paternal characters, he is named after his profession. He also takes Fragancia in after a gas leak blows up her house. Killing her mother and disabling her father. Originally played by Michael Segerstrom.
My pick – Tom Wilkinson. Like every British man, the stocky actor played his share of tough characters, and that has been his expertise within the past half-decade. He can also be the soft mentor within a warped fantasy world as he was in Michel Gondry’s 2004 movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.