Review: Come Away (2020)

Come Away (2020)

Directed by: Brenda Chapman | 94 minutes | adventure, drama, fantasy | Actors: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Carter Thomas, Ava Fillery, Jonathan Garcia, Keira Chansa, Jordan A. Nash, David Oyelowo, Angelina Jolie, Reece Yates, Jenny Galloway, Anna Chancellor, Michael Caine, Ned Dennehy, Rishi Kuppa, Alfie Hoang Jack Veal, Nana Agyeman-Bediako, Clarke Peters, David Gyasi, Sean Baker, Derek Jacobi, Daniel Swain, Nigel Plaskitt

Angelina Jolie, Derek Jacobi, Michael Caine, Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland, 19th-century London, a beautiful country house, fairytale effects, crooks and pirates, a pocket full of money, atmospheric music and the sun of an endless summer. Ingredients that should guarantee a beautiful film. Would you think. Until you’ve seen the misfire ‘Come Away’.

In ‘Come Away’, the colorful Littleton family celebrates a long summer in a remote country house. Everything seems to be going well with the children Alice and David, while the youngest son Peter is not doing well. While his older brother will leave for a renowned school, Peter has to do everything he can to get enough marks. So he has to work hard while his brother and sister have exciting adventures in the surrounding forest. Until disaster strikes, like a bolt from the blue.

‘Come Away’ is a mixture of fantasy, adventure film and drama. We already know this unusual mix from ‘Bridge to Terabithia’ from 2007, but everything that the film did right goes wrong here. In the first half hour your teeth will jump out of your mouth with the saccharine family bubbling. When disaster strikes, the mood changes: drinking parents, slapping parents, ranting parents, gambling parents, the London mafia and much more misery. But between those chunks of misery, those sugary scenes keep popping up again and again. The fantasy scenes, mainly set in the minds of the kids, look nice but clash with the Disney-esque sweetness and Dickensian misery of the rest.

The music is beautiful, but enhances the already exaggerated emotions. The actors are big names, but they drop big stitches. But a lack of focus also plays tricks on the film. It is never clear where the dramatic center of gravity lies. With the father’s troubled past, Peter’s school problems, the arrival of a strict aunt or the mother’s alcoholic tendencies? The story just floats on, on waves of tears, alcohol and sick sweetness. So that we can once again use the old review cliché: tasty ingredients don’t make a good dish. You need a capable cook for that.

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