A London Girl Meets The BFG
The BFG tells the story of a little girl who spots a very big man in the London night. Sophie (Ruby Barnhill) lives in an orphanage, and often stays awake long after everyone else has fallen asleep. It is then that she spots the Big Friendly Giant (Mark Rylance) quietly going about his business of collecting dreams. When he sees that Sophie has seen her, he plucks her from her bed and takes her to his home in Giant Country. He vows to keep her safe and assures her she has no way of getting home. She tries, but Sophie doesn't get far.
Life, however, isn't easy in Giant Country for BFG. He's the smallest person there, and Fleshlumpeater (Jemaine Clement), Bloodbottler (Bill Hader), and the others never let him forget that. The giants also notice Sophie's presence, which they don't like. She avoids detection, but Fleshlumpeater and his men keep looking for her and bullying BFG. They take a dim view of children, and cause trouble for some English residents. Even though he doesn't like attention, Sophie convinces BFG to create a dream that will get the attention of, and audience with, The Queen (Penelope Wilton) and, in turn, her military leaders.
The BFG, based on a work by Roald Dahl, is a pleasant film that will likely remind some viewers of the 1982 film ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Dahl's book was also published that year). Both films involve characters trying to get home and make the conditions in which they live. Both of these films also have direction by Steven Spielberg and a screenplay by Melissa Mathison (her final effort). This collaboration doesn't strike lightning a second time, but I like how they brought together two outsiders who secretly long to be a little less on the outside. The story is very simple, and sometimes moves a bit too slowly. The movie's two main characters. though, keep this film interesting.
The chemistry between Rylance and Barnhill is endearing. Rylance, as the BFG, lives a quiet life, and wishes to keep it that way. As he makes his rounds on the streets of London, he has learned to escape notice by actions such as disguising himself as a barricade. While he doesn't like being noticed, he cares more for Sophie than he does for his secret. He also discovers a kindred spirit in the young girl who's more like him than he realizes. Barnhill, in her big screen debut, does nicely as Sophie, who longs for a life away from the orphanage, but certainly doesn't want to be a virtual captive in Giant Country. She becomes a tiny handful for BFG, especially when she criticizes his unrefined way of speaking. Wilton, Clement, and Hader do decent work in support, as does Rebecca Hall as Her Majesty's aide, Mary.
The BFG talks about two people who share a secret, yet they reach a point where they must share that secret with others. The movie, in addition to sharing, speaks to acceptance and respect for someone else's needs. It also speaks to the need to create the right atmosphere for dreams to flourish. The BFG himself may be a master dreammaker, but he also has some dreams of his own that he wants to fulfill. No matter how he creates subconscious images for everyone, he needs help if any dreams are to develop into realities.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give The BFG three stars. Wake up to the possibilities.