Beautifully shot and competently acted, the romance between a young man cursed with lethal magical powers beyond his control and the spirited teenage cancer patient who gently coaxes him out of his self-imposed exile is quite a bit less maudlin than it might look on paper. So what if the story is fairly simple and predictable? (The final act gestures towards some nuance, by finally presenting us with a fairly sympathetic antagonist; alas, this potentially promising plot-development felt rather rushed). Since this is supposed to be a fairy tale, that's not necessarily a strike against it. Simplicity can have its charms. That probably also describes the appeal of the protagonist. Harry Treadaway's eerily enchanting performance as James Furlong made me think of Caspar Hauser and Percival – a rare example of the male ingénue, the pure fool of legend, removed from the corrupting influence of society at an early age, blamelessly guilty, fragile but fatal. How often do we get to see that in the male version? I docked some points, because my cold, shriveled heart finds the underlying message of all-defying love somewhat pat (I also resent the implication that – Spoiler Alert – only romantic/sexual love will do the trick, while the selfless kindness of the woodsman who takes in injured little James remains without effect on the curse; if you have to go with the bromides, at least don't operate with such a narrow conception of love). Someone with a more romantic disposition however might well fall in love with this little gem of a movie. It is, at any rate, exceedingly pretty to watch.
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James Furlong, motherless, discovered an extraordinary gift by accident which caused the death of his father and his grandmother.
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April 1, 2019