Film Review – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a young adult novel by Ransom Riggs. Given that the novel’s subjects are moody, weird, “peculiar,” this seemed to be story made for director Tim Burton to adapt into a film worthy of his catalog.
Miss Peregrine’s centers on Jake (Asa Butterfield), a somewhat unpopular kid with a weird grandpa, living in balmy Florida. When his grandpa, Abe Portman (Terence Stamp), becomes erratic and subsequently dies with mysterious circumstances, Jake cannot accept what he is being told about how his grandpa died. Following grief therapy, Jake and his father, Franklin (Chris O’Dowd), travel to an island in Wales, England so Jake can see if all the stories his grandpa told him about Miss Peregrine and the kids under her care were actually true. It should be said that Jake’s parents don’t believe any of it. Coming upon some of the peculiar children (unchanged from those old photos), Jake is led into a time loop and is thrown back into 1943 and Miss Peregrine’s actual home for peculiar children.
Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) is the keeper of time in her ever-repeating day that she has sworn to protect the peculiar children. Apparently, living the same day over and over again will keep those who wish to harm these children with special abilities. Jake’s grandpa used to live in this ever-repeating day, and now Jake has happened upon it in search of the truth. There is a bit of explaining done in the film about time loops, and I don’t know if I quite grasp the whole concept. Considering people can leave the loops and not immediately age to their respective age in the present time, is a bit of science that I can’t really forget. Time on a delay?
While the children, Miss Peregrine, and Jake are the heart of the story, the catalyst to everything going on in this story is created by Barron (Samuel L. Jackson), his immortal-wannabe friends, and their regressive friends, the hollows. It is in the hollows that want to eat peculiar children’s eyes, that I recommend that little kids not see this film. If you sleep with a night light, consider yourself warned.
Because this is a Tim Burton film, stylistically, it has a few of his trademarks. Costumes, set design, music, and some stop-motion animation all harken back to his previous films. The opening credits mixed with the score gave me goosebumps as it brought me back to Beetlejuice. There are other elements that screamed Beetlejuice to me, and that is not a bad thing. One thing that is refreshing about Miss Peregrine’s is Burton not relying on his staple actors and actresses. It brings a new energy to his film, especially when it is filled with young actors. If Tim Burton finds Eva Green as a new muse, we would all be better for it.
The film’s central theme is love. It is love that lets grandpa tell his grandson about his strange past, it is love that send Jake to find Miss Peregrine, and it is love that spurns the ending. It is also about giving up something you love to move on, or perhaps to stay still in time. I had a hard time believing that Jake would choose his path in the end since teenage love can be so fickle. However, light-as-air Emma (Ella Purnell) definitely represents something for Jake, and he is willing to give up life as he knows it for her and to save Miss Peregrine and the other children.
I would be curious to know if Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children lives up to the author and readers’ expectations. This is truly a Tim Burton film, but it left me wanting a bit more or another ending all together. Damn, my adult rationalizations! Go for Tim Burton and Eva Green, leave with that feeling that you have seen something unique, not unlike Burton’s other films.