Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) is the young daughter of heroin addicts (Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Tilly). After making up their needles for them, she is used to playing by herself, with dolls as her friends. When circumstances dictate a move to the Texan wilderness, she continues to enjoy her solitary lifestyle.

Tideland is simply magnificent. It's bleak and creepy, but at the same time charming, wide-eyed and visionary, everything you'd expect from Terry Gilliam. To all intents and purposes, the first half is simply watching Jeliza-Rose play. It could have easily become voyeuristic, but the perfect level of fantasy is bubbled through, bringing the audience into Jeliza-Rose's world, without making it jarringly unrealistic.

Copy picture

My only criticism of the film is that this section continues for maybe 5-10 minutes longer than it needs to. It would be unfair to say that it drags, but you do start to wonder what will happen, rather than simply relishing what is happening.

Dell (Janet McTeer) and Dickens (Brendan Fletcher) bring greater levels of human interaction into Jeliza-Rose's solitary existence, as well as further weirdness, and ultimately hope. There's much to be unsettled by, but Jeliza-Rose takes it largely in her stride, emphasising the film's central message, which is the resilience of children. Sure, they'll faint when they see someone being cut open with a big knife, but give it a scene or two and they'll be as right as rain.

From first to last, the acting is spot on. Ferland is brimming with talent. In a non-pejorative sense, she carries the film and deserves the great proportion of the praise for its success. Fletcher's turn, as a mentally challenged young man, is entirely convincing.

I was left craving more of Bridges, but simply out of greed, rather than any flaw in the filmmaking. Tilly's role is small, but she still shines and McTeer performs magnificently in a role which calls for her to appear a villain at times and at others an ally. Although larger than life, she still manages to infuse the character with a subtlety that helps drive the film along.

I always forget just how wonderful a director Terry Gilliam is. Rambling on about him being a visionary and a proper director, rather than someone who just happens to make films, wouldn't even come close to doing him justice. Any amount of praise would still underestimate his ability to amaze.

Tideland has a more mature feel to it than his past work. An absolute treat.

Reviewed on: 23 Jan 2007
Share this with others on...
Tideland packshot
Lonely girl’s imaginary life in the wild open spaces of her mind.
Amazon link

Director: Terry Gilliam

Writer: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni, based on a novel by Mitch Cullin

Starring: Jodelle Ferland, Jeff Bridges, Janet McTeer, Brendan Fletcher, Jennifer Tilly, Dylan Taylor, Wendy Anderson, Sally Crooks

Year: 2005

Runtime: 122 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: Canada/UK


Search database: