It is not an easy feat to adapt literature to film, especially one as studied as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” Inspired by events in her own life, Gilman’s story is about a woman who has been prescribed a rest cure by physician husband. The rest cure involves absolutely no mental stimulation and lying in bed all day. As the story progresses the rest cure takes its toll on the narrator and she begins to see a woman trapped in the wallpaper. Kevin Pontuti and Alexandra Loreth’s adaptation captures the narrator’s state of mind with a creative use of sound.
Overall the film is quiet, set in the Victoria era, the sounds are as reserved as the era. Jane (Loreth) does not have much to say, but she is narrating in her head. The film makes good use of the original prose, faithfully sticking to Gilman’s story. The film mingles mental health and patriarchal oppression with mystery, making this an instant Gothic Horror tale. However, the film’s use of loud jarring sounds in the midst of the silence heightens the horror aspects of the story, while also illuminating Jane’s mental turmoil.Along with sounds, the film also uses haunting imagery. The distorted figure of the woman along with the lurid wallpaper are nightmarish effects. Loreth gives a powerful performance that is tension filled and eerie. Jane’s character is sullen and reflects little change on the outside, which is an interesting choice for the film. The source material makes the narrator’s disposition seem much cheerier until it isn’t and one can’t help but wonder if this was a missed opportunity in the film.
Overall, The Yellow Wallpaper adaptation features great acting and respect for Gilman’s story. The film highlights the story’s important themes that increasingly relevant in today’s society.
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