The Wisdom of Crocodiles (1998)

This film stars Jude Law in the leading role as medical researcher Steven Grlscz (no, that is not a typo). We learn pretty early on that he is not “normal”, although it is never entirely revealed who or what he is. In fact, I am not sure he himself understands his condition fully, which is one reason why he does the work he does. And his private live is as much of a “research” project as his professional life.

Him not having all the answers also means that we as an audience do not receive all the answers we may be looking for. But it is a good device to stress Steven’s confusion, loneliness, and despair that lie under his suave and self-assured exterior. Jude Law plays this wide range of characteristics and emotions perfectly.

The rest of the cast are good as well, especially Timothy Spall. And I always love to see Colin Salmon in anything he does, although in this film his talents are criminally underused.

ATTENTION: miniscule spoilers ahead!

 

 

 

Atmosphere and tone in this film work perfectly well for the most part. The problem for me is the lack of story progression. Nothing really new or substantial is revealed about Steven’s condition after minute 12, and the film slowly meanders towards a climax you knew was coming, even though you do not know how it will end. The time in between is in part filled with the potential of Steven getting in trouble with the police, although everyone in the audience must know that this is not the way the story is headed.

Since the film gives a new, “scientific” background to vampire-like behaviour, it would have been nice to have a more epic film with more history and back-story, even though this would admittedly have been a very different film. The makers of The Wisdom of Crocodiles did evidently very much not want to make another vampire saga, they wanted to do something different, something personal and artsy. That does work in part (and then only thanks to Jude Law’s performance) but not entirely.

 

All in all an interesting take on the genre, just as interesting as Byzantium, but not as good.

I am prepared to give this between 5.5 and 6.5 out of 10 – so again falling approximately within the range of the current imdb rating (6.3).

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