The Wisdom Of Crocodiles

*Originally written in 2003

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A moving, beautifully told, and original vampire movie, and one which has vanished into the unknown. Jude Law, probably in his best performance, is a modern day vampire. Naturally, this being a modern movie which strives to be original, Law’s character has few of the vampire traits we would recognise; he can live in sunlight, crucifixes hold no power over him, he cannot transform into other animals, he does not have fangs. However, he is semi-immortal, and must drink human blood to survive. Indeed, it is this fact which drives the story, and it is a tragedy rather than a horror. With great acting, beautiful and subtle camera-work, a touching story and a fitting soundtrack, The Wisdom of Crocodiles bears all the markings of a good movie; unfortunately it is little known, and of course has flaws which likely hindered it from becoming more widely seen.

Law is Stephen, an attractive, clever, charming young man who happens to be a vampire. In his quest for the ‘perfect’ woman who can save him from his torturous life, a strong woman with the ability to love him, literally changing her blood. All the women he has found in the past have been scared of him, so he has killed them. When he does this, he takes a fang like object from them. In his desperate search for love he finds Anna, (Lowensohn) a beautiful young woman and they begin to fall for each other. She is enchanted by him, but is also cautious, and when he saves her from a gang of muggers she becomes scared. The truth soon comes out in parts, and all the while the police are interested in Stephen’s involvement in the death of his ex-girlfriend. The story builds to a suitable emotional climax, and never at any point can we predict what will happen.

The film failed at the box-office because it is very downbeat, and only features one big name star. The director is also little known, but shows immense talent and gets the best from the cast. Hoffman’s script has some of the best dialogue in years, clever, and full of metaphor and depth. It is definitely a film crying out to be rewatched as you will find something new with each viewing. There is imagery to suit the script, and Law’s charismatic performance could not have been bettered. Lowensohn is also very good, her intensity growing as she finds out more about Stephen. Of course, as a vampire movie people will expect blood and scares. Here there is little blood shed and few scenes of violence, though all are handled suitably, and of course it is not that kind of film. The cop storyline adds further depth, but for some the proceedings will be too slow. The film has its own pace, and rarely gets out of first gear, but this is the way it should be. An underrated film, but as Jude Law’s stardom rises hopefully he will not forget this, and his fans will discover it.

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