Magical. This movie is purely magical! It made me laugh, it made me think, it made me cry, and it made me believe in… magic. This unique masterpiece was co-written and directed by Tim Burton, one the most visionary filmmakers of the last decade. His movies are not always perfect, but even lesser efforts like “Batman” feature his signature quirkiness and invention. “Edward Scissorhands” takes us to a little world both familiar and queer: suburbia. This small town is kitschier than a ’50s sitcom, with rows after rows of pastel bungalows inhabited by even cornier people whose lives revolve around lawnmowers, barbecues and gossip. Burton could have chosen to make a wicked satire, but instead he decided to do a fairy tale.
A mountaintop castle happens to loom over this burg, and it shelters Edward (Johnny Depp), one of the most memorable characters ever imagined. He was created from scratch by a madcap inventor (the riveting Vincent Price, perfectly cast) who passed away before completing his work. Hence, he’s caught with scissors instead of hands; combined with his wild pitch black hair and his pale, scarred skin, it’s enough to make him… different. He’ll eventually leave his fortress of solitude for a while, when Avon salesperson Peg (Dianne Wiest) takes him home to live with her family. Before long, the word circulates and neighbor housewives gather around, curious about this mysterious stranger. The movie is about how people react to someone who doesn’t fit in society’s mold. Edward is alternatively feared and admired, as people witness his lack of social manners but also his amazing ability to artistically cut hedges, dogs and even women’s hair!
The picture is also a tragic romance. Peg’s beautiful daughter (Winona Ryder) catches the eye of Edward, but he’ll have to watch out for her jackass boyfriend (played by a buffed up Anthony Michael Hall, far from his geek roles in John Hughes comedies) and the townspeople’s prejudice… “Edward Scissorhands” is a wonderful, bittersweet romantic fable that will touch anyone who ever felt different and lonely, during adolescence mostly. It’s about the longing to be saved from the ranks of the freaks who suspect they could never love anyone (to quote Aimee Mann), on top of a metaphor for how the same hands that can create beauty can also destroy.
This is an exceptional movie in every aspect. The art direction and the photography are stunning and give the film a very rich look blending bright, colorful design and gothic chic. Burton’s imagery is heightened emotionally even more by Danny Elfman’s poignant score, one of his very best. And then there’s Johnny Depp, who delivers an incredibly moving and memorable performance as this very special young man. Depp barely says anything in the film, but his body language is mesmerizing and he’s able to transmit surprisingly nuanced emotions through his deep, sad eyes. “Edward Scissorhands” is a film you can’t help but love, as it poetically shows you what true beauty is all about.