Cassius Clay once said “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” If I were affiliated with Asylum in any way I’d strut down the street knowing I’d made a terrifically awful film. “This sure is a stinker,” I’d tell my friends. They’d try and talk me out of it with comments like, “But you worked so hard on it” or “C’mon, it can’t be that bad,” but I would remain resolute, knowing I’d accomplished something with Asylum that most never do. In a land where most things are in the middle being on the bottom is impressive too.
The plot starts us in an insane asylum in England in the ’40s. Asylum, that’s where they got the title from. Now, I don’t want to give away too much, but if you think about it real hard you can maybe imagine another use for the word. Something involving relationships. Hmmm. Perhaps someone could find asylum in one of the crazies? Ding! Don’t worry, this is all revealed pretty early on so I haven’t spoiled anything, even though it would be tough to spoil what spoiled milk tastes like for you.
Natasha Richardson plays the wife of the head of the asylum who becomes attracted to one of its residents. I don’t really have a problem with her acting in this movie, she did all she could, I just found the part in general to be dreadful. When a woman is attracted to crazy murdering fellows it becomes tough to drum up a ton of sympathy for her. Likewise Marton Csokas does as well as he can as the crazy murdering fellow. He seems quite crazy to me, so well done there. Ian McKellen makes an awkward appearance as a fellow psychologist who catches on to the illicit tryst. Oh, did I mention Natasha has a little boy too? Yes, she’s wife of the head of the asylum and her little boy is just adorable (Guy Lewis who was the young Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins). So she’s truly risking it all for some crazy loving. Big suspense here.
In the end I just found the overall story to be dreadful and I didn’t really see the point of telling it. The acting was fine, the set looked authentic, but it felt to me like a movie that didn’t need to be made. The whole thing was pretty straightforward: a cheating wife, a crazy lover, and so on and so forth. It seems to me something like that shouldn’t have been so straightforward. I’m not asking for some ridiculous twist, but maybe a little more confusion out of Natasha while she’s getting some in front of her little boy. So yeah, I hated it. I’ve liked slower pieces before, Remains of the Day and Meet Joe Black come to mind, but I couldn’t work up any appetite for Asylum. I’d recommend it only if you have a fascination with foreign insane asylums in the forties or perhaps are looking for something to sleep to. Just one man’s opinion.