Gaslight Review (No Spoilers): Excellent Cast, Excellent Cinematography, So-so Script

This movie has all the ingredients to be really really good. And it’s still good! If you like this sort of feminist gothic thriller film, you’ll like it. It’s just not really REALLY good.

I can’t remember who first brought up this movie on the blog, but it was because of the cast. Sara Ali Khan, Vikrant Massay, and Chitrangada Singh, a great collection of talented actors. Also, an interesting collection. Chitrangada is in her mid-40s now and first found fame and acclaim almost 20 years ago. She’s an old school early 2000s art actress. Vikrant Massay is new school artsy, first got really noticed only 6 years ago. And then there’s Sara, who’s generally considered more of a mainstream actress than an art actress. All of them are at a level that made me think “if they are interested in this movie, there is something interesting here. And I want to see what it is”.

The vibe of this movie is great, the look is fabulous, and it has a very old school haunted mansion royalty gothic feel to it. But with very modern style characters inhabiting this old-fashioned setting. Seeing Sara in jeans, and Chitrangada in silk blouses strolling through a confusing maze of a mansion is fascinating.

And of course the title is “Gaslight” so we know it’s going to be something about a twisty plot of women trusting the wrong men and not trusting their gut. That was kind of bad actually, I spent the whole movie trying to guess the twist instead of just enjoying the ride. Might have been better to hide their hand a bit.

But if you are going to show your hand right in the title, might as well keep it going straight through. The set design and cinematography really are special. One little thing that worked great, this very old school Indian mansion is decorated in reproductions of European classic art. It adds a layer of “something is wrong” to have two clearly clashing styles thrown together. Plus, European art is CREEPY. Well, it can be. There’s Goya and stuff in this film, I don’t want to see that on the wall of a lovely old Indian mansion.

Where it fails is in the meaning. Gothics, thrillers, film noir, they are all related in that they deal in revealing our assumptions. The scary tall dark man is actually troubled and good, the seemingly harmless friend is about to betray you, the enormous mansion is rotting from the inside, and so on and so forth. The original “Gaslight” was about gender, class, and a little bit America versus Europe. Our heroine is a wealthy European heiress who marries a charming European man, but turns out he is trying to convince her she is crazy and can’t trust her own instincts, while the straight forward straight up American lower class man is the one she should trust. This movie, unfortunately, doesn’t end up having a meaning. It nods towards gender, class, even religion, and then runs away from it infuriatingly!!! It’s the classic problem of lots of good small bits but none of them run together into a logical message.

Yes, movies don’t have to have messages. But if it is a Gothic Thriller, it needs to have a cohesive threat. A thematic threat, no matter what is happening or where our protagonist goes she is always threatened by men/the wealthy/the medical profession/something! And this movie fails, there’s too many threats from too many places, and then also too many allies from too many places. Just doesn’t work.

But the isolated bits are great! And if you are in the mood for a really cool spooky looking movie with great acting, you should check it out!


7 thoughts on “Gaslight Review (No Spoilers): Excellent Cast, Excellent Cinematography, So-so Script

  1. I was so excited when I first read about this movie and its cast. But then I read the reviews and I lost all desire to watch it. Your review also confirm that it’s not a must watch film. I think I’ll skip, unless Vikrant plays a super nice guy , in that case I will watch asap


  2. OK, I really like Vikrant and I really like Chitrangada, and I was interested for the same reasons you were and this review makes it seem like I don’t HAVE to avoid it. I will not get my hopes up.

    It’s just creepy, right? Not actually scary? Shall I watch in the daytime?


  3. I was quite looking forward to this due to the gothic thriller aspect and the cast. It managed to hook me till about half way, then it kind of got tiresome. I wish the villain reveal was more interesting rather than through the process of elimination.


    • Exactly! Or at least a more interesting kind of reveal, like he’s a criminal mastermind lying about everything or something. But no.


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