Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Tim Burton’s imagination is indeed peculiar.
And so is his film version of the book by Ransom Riggs.
Jake (Asa Butterfield) is very close to his grandfather, Abraham
Portman (Terence Stamp). That’s
why Jake is so distressed to find his grandfather in his back yard, mauled
by some wild animal. Jake
immediately wants to go get help, but Abraham tells him to listen instead:
he has a secret to tell him. He’s
got a special gift. And he
believes Jake has it, also. And
here’s how you find out for sure.
Now, suddenly, all those bedtime stories of Abraham’s begin to
take on a different meaning. Abraham
says he was raised in a “special home,” which Jake’s Dad has always
discounted as just another orphanage.
But it seems this was a “home for peculiar children,” meaning a
place where children with “special gifts” lived together.
And the housemistress was Miss Peregrine, and Jake would discover
something fantastic if he could just journey to the old orphanage, on an
island off Wales.
After consulting with Jake’s psychologist, who recommends this as
“good closure,” Jake’s Dad reluctantly agrees to take him, thinking
that they’re really going bird-watching together on the beach, but Jake
takes the first opportunity to explore the old orphanage, which he finds
to be bombed out, by the Nazis in World War II.
Apparently it’s sat there, half-demolished, ever since.
Now we take a left turn in the story, as Jake discovers some kind
of “portal” which takes him to 1943, the day the orphanage was bombed.
Miss Peregrine (Eva Green) is there, along with a collection of
“peculiar children,” one of whom as great strength, another is in
touch with the earth and can make plants grow instantly.
Another has an extra mouth in the back of her head?
And yet another floats, and seems to have power to make air bubbles
underwater big enough for people to be able to breathe.
It’s this one, Emma Bloom (Ella Purnell), who particularly
interests Jake, because, well, she happens to be beautiful, also.
But this isn’t really a love story, though their spark makes for
a bit of unspoken sexual tension. It’s
actually about a time warp, where Miss Peregrine and her Peculiar Children
continue to live through the very same day, including rescuing an injured
bird on the same spot at the same time every day (Miss Peregrine is
constantly consulting her watch to make sure that all is done precisely on
time, otherwise they may not escape the bomb that lands on their
The reason Jake can do all this is because he, too, has a peculiar
gift: he can spot the
“monsters,” the ones that are after the children, because, well,
they’re the ones who prevent the monsters from just eating out
everyone’s eyeballs (a particular delicacy of theirs).
Does this plot sound peculiar?
That’s because it is. But
it’s also tremendously creative, more than a little creepy, and somehow
irrepressibly optimistic, as well. It’s
a little intense for smaller children, and too fanciful for the
“action/adventure” adults, and too weird for the “romantic comedy”
fans. But its unique
atmosphere and energetic narrative will charm those who desire to expand
their moviegoing horizons.