“Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” begins with Harry covered in blood and stunned, and things don’t much pick up for him from there. After a brief flirtation at Surbiton station of all places, Harry is pretty much back in Hogwarts and up shit creek.
I like the Harry Potter films, and I’m not here to diss this one. I liked it. It was alright. It was slightly embarrassing, as the only person in the cinema to apparently not know the book off by heart, as I kept jumping and gasping with each plot twist. Not that there is much twisting. The first half of the film is essentially teenaged hijinks involving those terrible and scarring first forays into romance we all know too well. The second half was frankly terrifying and had been shrinking in my seat. But then I’m one of approximately three people in the world over five years old that haven’t read the books. This gives me a rare perspective on a global phenomenon. It’s an extreme downer, is my concise summary.
1. Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix
Not in it nearly enough, but utterly fabulous, completely and unreservedly mental, yet weirdly attractive and totally wonderful. I love Helena Bonham Carter. I have a huge girl crush on her.
2. Ron and Harry Experimenting with Drugs
Rupert Grint is by far the best actor out of the three, but Daniel Radcliffe and he perfectly nailed the comic parts. The stand-out moments were Ron stoned on a love potion and Harry speeding on luck potion. Hilariously written, directed and performed.
3. The Opening
Fabulous shots plunging you through London, culminating in the Millennium Bridge wobblin’ like it’s the year 2000 all over again.
4. Innuendo? What innuendo?
Ice cream licking and unfortunate timing of the question “did you do it?” Way above the kiddies’ heads but chucklesome for it.
Or rather, I suppose, Emma Watson’s interpretation of Hermione. I’m being generous and saying it’s her interpretation and not her total lack of acting talent, because I think, after careful consideration, it must be. The girl has been in front of a camera since she was 10 or 11 years old. Surely to God she isn’t that tense unintentionally? Throughout the entire film – and the last film too – Hermione has been resolutely emotionless. Every exclamation or facial expression seems to be a force of desperate will, overcoming a rigidity that’s extraordinary and even distracting at times. In this one, when she cries over Ron, it was painful to watch because of the sheer physical strain which it seemed to be to try and squeeze out one solitary tear, which incidentally I don’t think she actually managed, she just scrunched up her face. Is Hermione solid ice in the middle? That’s not how you cry over boys when you’re sixteen, the water pours out your eyes, the snot pours out of your nose, your face goes all squidgy and you howl, yes howl on your best friend’s shoulder. Hermione just sort of scrunched up her shoulders, closed her eyes tightly, and lay her head on Harry’s shoulder. Emma Watson may be beautiful, brainy and rich but surely even she has cried over a boy before? In which case, it must be a choice to play it that way, but it was weird. Even her love for Ron is so chilly – it seems to have by-passed adolescent devotion and landed at marital intimacy – that when she looks at him it’s mostly with disgust. Promising to stand by Harry sounds like a threat. Please God let Hermione melt at some point, because the wringing out of basic human emotion is starting to get really hard to watch.
2. Harry and Ginny
Oh dear oh dear. Well, there were two problems here, neither of which are anyone to do with film’s fault. Firstly, I am told by sources in the know that the relationship is deeply unconvicing even in the books. Secondly, Harry and Ginny were cast as children, before either had chemistry. It is unfortunate that they have grown up to have absolutely zero with each other. Below zero, even. If anything, it’s a sibling-like thing, which just makes a weird situation creepier. Watching the kiss, I swear to God, was like watching the forcing together of two repulsing magnets. They just about made it, but sprang away from each other with evident relief, shared by the audience. It made my skin crawl, it was so unnatural and hideous to watch. Re-cast Ginny, is the only advice I can think of. It’s cruel and unfair because she’s an okay actress, but I implore the producers not to make us watch them all through the last two films, I don’t think I can stand it.
1. Draco’s Feet
Just sayin’. Not meaning to get personal here, but....yikes. Excellent performance from him, though. You felt more fellow feeling and sympathy between him and Harry than you did between Harry and Hermione, which says everything you need to know about the aforementioned Ice Queen.