Mary Reilly [1996]

Stephen Frears reunites with the production talents who made the tempting Dangerous Liaisons for this new look at the infamous Dr. Jekyll (a deft John Malkovich). Instead of being in the laboratory where the good doctor unlocks his evil twin, we stay in the mansion overlooking the lab. An inquisitive, proper maid, Mary Reilly (Julia Roberts) slowly becomes Dr. Jekyll's confidant. Rather than a horror story, the film is a spooky mystery that keeps us in the dark, and what a wonderful dark Frears and his designers have fashioned. Roberts carries the movie, digging deep for her best dramatic work to date. Though some may wish she'd show more passion, she holds her emotions appropriately in check. The movie faced considerable, well-documented troubles, including the reshooting of several scenes months after the initial production. This probably affected the finale, which has little impact and nearly ruins a good thing. --Doug Thomas

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