The Wisdom Of Crocodiles (2000)
"When I was a boy, I went into the woods alone to climb the highest tree "
If you ever wondered what the Hugh Grant film About A Boy (rich layabout with too much time on his hands moons about London picking up women) would be like if the lead character was a blood-drinking fiend, someone took all the jokes out, and there wasn't even a decent soundtrack to distract you from the interminably pretentious goings-on, then wonder no more. Some joker made The Wisdom Of Crocodiles (aka Immortality) when you weren't looking.
To give it its due, Wisdom Of Crocodiles starts with a spectacular image - a Ford Capri wedged high in a tree, blood pouring from the cockpit and down the trunk. It's a striking opening shot. But apart from a particularly nasty tachometry scene near the end, there's very little actual horror on show throughout the film. Then again, I'm not entirely convinced it's supposed to be a horror film
After observing the crash, Stephen Grlscz (Jude Law, he of the receding hairline and cheekbones) wanders off home in his big coat to write the word "despair" in his notebook. It turns out the driver of the car was his fiancee, but it's not long before the horny young scamp has decamped to the London Underground, where he saves a girl (Kerry Fox) from committing suicide and instantly strikes up a relationship with her. After a couple of weeks of flirty friendship, he takes her upstairs and bites her throat out, following this up by appearing to pass a rusty nail (we later find out it's a crystal) out of some orifice or other and writing the word "disappointment" in that notebook of his.
Before you can say "Grlscz", old unpronounceable Stephen is up to his romantic tricks once more, seducing an asthmatic girl (played by the almost equally tongue twisting Elina Löwensohn) in a museum by sketching her picture.
Meanwhile, the tube station girl's body is found, and the police are called in to investigate. In time honoured British horror film tradition they're a pair of mismatched flatfoots, although both have impeccable genre credentials - Jack Davenport (Talos The Mummy) is the idealistic young one, Timothy Spall (Dream Demon, Gothic etc) is the older, more world-weary type. Stephen was zapped by a speed camera carting the body out of London, and the police have worked out that all his recent girlfriends died "in mysterious circumstances" ("That's quite a coincidence " ponders Davenport's character). Added to that, he appears to have no social security records. But instead of banging him up for being a speeding illegal immigrant cum possible murderer, they just allow him to carry on wandering around London in his big coat.
After his latest squeeze tells an interminable story about chopsticks and he attends a painful yuppie dinner party, Stephen follows Spall's scruffy copper back home, and observes the porky policeman getting picked on by possibly the least frightening street gang since that bunch of geriatrics in Corruption. Before the policeman can get a pummelling from this bunch of ridiculous fashion-wearing 30-somethings, Stephen steps in, talking them out of it by referring to their victim as "Constable cunt-face" and offering them someone else's business card. "Now you know who I am "
Why, no-one's quite sure. For a moment it looks like Stephen (and the policemen) might possibly swing both ways, but nothing that exciting happens.
The next scene brings in the film's one moment of horror, as it appears that Stephen has somehow talked his way into a doctor's job at a hospital. But he hasn't. Then he gets set upon by the crap gang again, and this time gives them the kicking they richly deserve (any excitement this scene may have held is evaporated by some extremely poorly chosen art-house crap music playing over the top of it). After some non-erotic sex with his new girlfriend (Anna), Stephen starts spouting on about psychiatrist's chairs, horses and crocodiles, but by this point I was beginning to lose the will to live. It appears that our "crocodile" (not a vampire, that would be too sensible) takes on the attributes of the women he kills, and what he's looking for is the blood of a woman who truly loves him. Each crystal he passes contains a different emotion. The problem is, he's fallen for Anna and he just can't kill her, which means he'll die himself
"I need blood, I need the love that is in your blood. Love is what you feel, it's what I eat. If I can find the right woman, if I can get her to love me perfectly, then it will stop "
Not only is Wisdom Of Crocodiles boring, badly written, confusing and pretentious, it doesn't even contain a decent performance. Law wanders disinterestedly through the whole thing (although it could be argued that his character's like that for a reason), but by the end of it no-one really cares whether he lives or dies. In fact, the whole thing is so leaden and dull that it's hard to care for anyone (I for one was hoping that his annoying girlfriend would get what was coming to her - something, anything to relieve the tedium). It took me three (count 'em) attempts to sit through the whole thing - and I've seen some clunkers in my time, let me tell you.
Last updated: February 27, 2010
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