A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
After seeing "Orphan," I now realize that Damien of "The Omen" was a model child. The Demon Seed was a bumper crop. Rosemary would have been happy to have this baby. Here is a shamelessly effective horror film based on the most diabolical of movie malefactors, a child.
Pity. Esther is such a bright child. So well-behaved. Her paintings are so masterful. She sits down at the piano and rips off a little Tchaikovsky. So why does her adoptive mother have such a fearful attitude toward her? Could it be because after her arrival, Kate, her new mom, got drunk and almost let her son Daniel drown? Had Max, a darling daughter, but then miscarried a third child? Is an alcoholic trying go stay sober? Just doesn’t like the little orphan girl’s looks?
There is something eerie about her. Something too wise, too knowing, too penetrating. And why won’t she remove those ribbons she always wears? And why does she dress like Little Bo-Peep when she goes to school? Daniel is cool toward her. Max is too young to be sure. Only John, the father, is convinced she’s a bright kid, and blameless in a series of unfortunate events.
Vera Farmiga is at the film’s core as Kate, a onetime Yale music professor who feels she is unfairly targeted by her therapist, her husband and eventually the authorities. Peter Sarsgaard is John, the kind of understanding husband who doesn’t understand a damned thing except that he is understanding. And Esther, the orphan, is played by Isabelle Fuhrman, who is not going to be convincing as a nice child for a long, long time.