In Inkheart, Brendan Fraser plays Mortimer Folchart, an antique-book collector (or maybe bookbinder), who is journeying to find that one special book. He is accompanied by his daughter, Meggie (Eliza Bennett), to Italy. And that is where Folchart’s past, in the form of Dustfinger (Paul Bettany), confronts him. Ten years ago, Folchart read the book Inkheart aloud, with the result that three of its characters, one of them Dustfinger, were pulled out of the book and into the real world. And in exchange, Folchart’s wife, Theresa, was trapped in the book. Folchart tries to run away from his past, but he is soon forced to reveal his secret to his daughter – that he is a Silvertongue. Adventure ensues.
And this is where it all starts to fall apart. Inkheart is based on the book of the same name by Cornelia Funke. I haven’t read the book, but I hope it doesn’t have the gaping plot holes that the movie does, as I am not at all inspired to watch or read the rest of the series. The story has a good premise – some people have the power to bring things and people out of books and into the real world. They don’t have much control over what comes through, though, except for their choice of passage. Sounds interesting, right? Imagine the possibilities…
But what constitutes a story? Must it be published? Must it be in a book? Who counts as an author? What if a Silvertongue writes his own story? These, and other questions, are not really addressed in the movie. The other thing that I found frustrating about this film is that there are so many opportunities for the protagonists to take control of events, but somehow these opportunities get missed. Besides that, the acting in this film leaves much to be desired.
Eliza Bennett turns in a delightful performance as a teenager wanting to be told the truth for a change – a performance that puts Brendan Fraser to shame. Like many other actors in this film, his overdramatic acting is made more stark by the few good performances, such as that of Bettany. Helen Mirren bravely takes on a comedic role as Meggie’s great aunt, but it just can’t save this film. This story has so much potential; it’s a shame it’s been wasted like this.