Gerald's Game (Mike Flanagan, 2017, USA)

Gerald's Game is Mike Flanagan's 2017 adaptation of Stephen King's 1992 novel of the same name. Adapted from a novel that was long thought to be unfilmable, Flanagan takes some liberties with the source material, but by and large, is incredibly faithful. This is all the more surprising given that the novel takes place almost entirely in the head of our protagonist Jessie Burlingame (Carla Gugino), trapped handcuffed to a bed in a remote country home after a BDSM game with her husband Gerald (Bruce Greenwood) ends with his sudden heart attack and death. 

Following Gerald's death, the rest of the story involves Jessie's survival and attempts to escape from her situation. In the novel, she interacts with various feminine personas, including a childhood version of herself. Flanagan's film adaptation largely consolidates these different feminine versions into a single idealized version of powerful Jessie, whose counterpoint is effectively the "ghost" of Gerald. Gerald's presence here is a marked change from the novel and also an improvement, as Bruce Greenwood is an underrated actor who brings a great deal to the role. As the film progresses, we relive flashbacks from Jessie's childhood, wherein she recovers a memory of being molested by her father (Henry Thomas of E.T. fame).

Meanwhile, she is being visited by a mysterious looking figure who may or may not be real - the Moonlight Man (Carel Struycken, most famous from The Addams Family and Twin Peaks). The coda of the film is perhaps a bit obvious and attempts to overexplain the presence of this Moonlight Man, but this is taken straight from the novel, so it can't be entirely attributed to Flanagan. Still, the film is effective, and any faults here are largely attributable to the source material. The "de-gloving" seen is one of the most disturbing scenes ever on film.



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