Doctor Jekyll 2023 REVIEW

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Doctor Jekyll 2023, starring Eddie Izzard, breathes new life into the classic Robert Louis Stevenson horror novella, writes DAVID SAUNDERSON

Doctor Jekyll 2023 REVIEW 1

TITLE: Doctor Jekyll
RELEASED: 25 August 2023 (Frightfest), 27 October 2023
DIRECTOR: Joe Stephenson
CAST: Eddie Izzard, Scott Chambers, Robyn Cara, Morgan Watkins, Jonathan Hyde, Simon Callow, Lindsay Duncan

Review of Doctor Jekyll 2023

It’s was with a mixture of excitement and a dash of scepticism that I dove into the 2023 adaptation of Doctor Jekyll, the latest offering that claims to mark the return of Hammer Films to our screens.

At first glance, the familiar gothic ambiance, underscored by an wicked musical score and striking opening titles, seems to herald the classic Hammer touch. Yet, as the film unfolds, it becomes apparent that this connection might lean more on afterthought homage than on the essence that defined the original Hammer productions.

The cast stands out brilliantly across the board. Particularly compelling is Scott Chambers, who brings to life the role of the ex-convict, delivering a performance that’s both nuanced and intriguing.

However, the true magnet drawing us to this iteration of the classic horror tale is none other than Eddie Izzard, portraying the eponymous Doctor Nina Jekyll.

Izzard, whose career evolution from an “executive transvestite” to openly transgender has been both public and profound, offers a fascinating lens through which to view this iconic character.

The film briefly touches upon Nina Jekyll’s transgender identity in an early newspaper article, a nod that initially suggests a deeper exploration might follow.

Yet, this aspect of Jekyll’s character remains largely unexplored throughout the rest of the film, a move that distances this adaptation from the transformative narrative arc seen in Doctor Jekyll and Sister Hyde, one of British horror’s most celebrated tales.

What sets this Doctor Jekyll apart is the subtle, ever-present ambiguity surrounding the transformation into Hyde – or in this case, Nina’s alter ego. This narrative choice keeps the audience perpetually guessing, a psychological cat-and-mouse that adds layers of tension and intrigue. At times, I felt it quite thrilling.

The dynamic interplay between Dr Jekyll and her ex-con carer is particularly captivating, with their cerebral games providing a backbone of suspense that’s impossible to look away from.

My engagement, admittedly, was twofold: partly a hunt for what distinguishes this film within the Jekyll and Hyde canon, and partly an appreciation for its genuinely compelling script.

Despite these strengths, the film’s conclusion left me wanting, feeling somewhat unresolved and lacking the impact one might expect from a story steeped in such rich thematic potential. This isn’t to say the film is without merit.

On the contrary, it navigates the fine line between homage and innovation with a degree of finesse, and as always, anything featuring Eddie Izzard is worth your time for the sheer force of presence and depth of performance she brings to the screen.

So, is this truly a Hammer film in the classic sense? Perhaps not entirely, as it veers away from the hallmarks that traditionally defined the studio’s productions.

Yet, Doctor Jekyll manages to carve its niche within the broader landscape of horror cinema, offering a unique and modern interpretation of Stevenson’s timeless tale.

It may not be the greatest Jekyll and Hyde adaptation ever made, but it’s far from the worst, providing enough intrigue and standout moments to make it a worthwhile watch for fans of the genre and admirers of Izzard’s work alike.

What did you think of Doctor Jekyll 2023? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Watch Doctor Jekyll 2023 Trailer

Tell us your views of Doctor Jekyll 2023 in the comments section below!

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