By Mark Ramsey | 2009/07/26

Orphan features an opening so vile I would have thrown up my popcorn – if only I hadn’t been eating a Starbucks Low Fat Apricot Blueberry Muffin instead. And what kind of wuss throws that up?

Enter Vera Farmiga and Peter Sarsgaard who go in search of a living as they await a call from Mr. Scorcese.

Sarsgaard is best known for wedding the ambiguously sexy Maggie Gyllenhaal, thus hoarding a Guinness World Record number of vowels into one family name.

Vera and Peter know sign language because their baby daughter is deaf. “She may be deaf but this script is dumb” volunteers Peter as he eyes wife Maggie’s seven figure take from The Dark Knight with envy.


Peter and Vera and their kids are just a regular family – living in a snow-covered mountain villa! Just when you think the only thing missing is the tree-house, cut to the tree-house. And on the way to the tree-house, make sure to stop by the greenhouse, and bring your brand-spanking new kitchen with you! I don’t know what Peter is writing at his little drafting table but I suspect he’s forging C-notes.

When you’ve got this much money it’s time to buy some love. And that’s just what Peter and Vera do with the new adopted daughter Esther.

The nuns have been raising Esther in a quaint, rustic orphanage known as the “Home for Well-Behaved White Girls in Uniforms.” There’s a sell-a-thon on and the nuns have special financing rates on various late-model youths.

Naturally, Peter and Vera are attracted to the solemn, artistic one with no friends and a fashion sense straight out of the Patty Duke Show.

“Let’s bring her back to our snow-covered villa and ply her with gifts!” says Peter.


“Yes, let’s!” says Vera. “And then when she tries to kill us we can shrink into helpless, simpering, sniveling saps.”

“That’s too much alliteration for a guy with two adjacent vowels in his last name,” warns Peter.

Yes, parents terrorized by a pre-teen child. It’s based on the scene that plays out every day in the checkout line at Walmart.

Young Esther hails from Russia, although the constant references to “moose and squirrel” are thanks to linguistic coaches Boris and Natasha.

“Say it like Mr. Chekov would, my dahling!” says Boris.

“Anton Chekhov, author of The Cherry Orchard?” asks Esther.

“No, Pavel Chekov, navigator of the Starship Enterprise!”

Once Esther turns evil, the fake Russian accent comes in handy as she sits in a wheelchair, strokes a kitty, and mutters “Goodbye, Mr. Bond.”

Says Peter, “Vera, do you think it’s a problem that Esther is painting pictures of our house burning which are only visible under a black light?”

“No,” says Vera. “What are the odds of our house ever being under a black light?”

Perhaps Esther suffers from a “character-disturbance,” if we assume for the sake of argument that her role can accurately be described as a “character.”

Who are the “character-disturbed”? “They are superficially cheerful, but adroit manipulators who have difficulty getting and keeping friends,” said Vera.

“You’ve just described the entire cast of The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” said Peter.

It’s at this point that the plot reaches its climax and takes a twist only slightly less wacky than discovering Esther is an alien who crash-landed at Roswell and has been home-schooled at Area 51 since 1947.

I’m not going to tell you what it is because it will make you want to light the theater on fire under a black light.

Suffice it to say, goodness prevails.

Except for cinematic goodness, of course.


2 Responses to “Orphan”

  1. chaitanya says:

    as it happens so often that lack of cinematic goodness prevails, all one has to look forward to after watching a movie like this is your review to lighten up the view!! cool one , this mark.


    Mark Ramsey Reply:

    Thanks! Yes, I am now a prescription to ease the pain of Hollywood’s headaches.


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