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Albert Fish is a grey old man whose harmless appearance fools a whole society. In fact he’s a bloodthirsty serial killer and cannibal. He finds pleasure in pain both done to himself and to others. In 1928 he takes ten year old Grace Budd to a party. She’s never seen again and Fish disappears into thin air and can’t be found. However a stubborn detective refuses to let go of the case. Several years later he finally able to track down Fish, prove his guilt and have him convicted.
I think most people would refer to Albert Fish as a depraved son of a bitch if they got the chance. But I don’t think that he’s as widely known as some of the other serial killers and wackos out there. There’s a ton of movies about Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer and John Wayne Gacy but only one about Albert Fish as far as I know. I think it’s very strange considering this man’s mental state. It might have something to do with his crimes; they are of course taboos since they include killing and eating children. That’s something you can’t exploit in just any way. The fact that his victims were fairly few compared to some of the more widely known serial killers might also have something to do with it.
I think that Patrick Bauchau does a marvelous job in the role as Fish. He’s perfect and keeps it interesting at all times even when the camera wanders off and refuses us to see what’s really happening with the victims. And since there’s not a single scene where there’s any true visualizing of the murders, that’s well needed. He can turn from being a lovable old man to a total bastard in a heartbeat and it’s very nicely portrayed. The other parts a fine to but not in comparison with the title role.
I think it’s too bad that the film is really two films in one. We have the story about Fish, which is fine even if I would have liked a little more excitement and suspense in the story. We also have the other half of the film, told fragmented at the same time, about the detective working with lost persons and ultimately catches Fish in the end. These parts are so noir-esque that they disturb the flow of the movie. It doesn’t quite fit together with the main story I think. I wouldn’t have minded it if it wasn’t so noir all the time.
So as a whole I’m disappointed. I think there should be a more revolting film about Fish and that it wouldn’t be very hard to do considering his crimes. I need denser storytelling and a psychological depth analysis of his mind, but I guess this’ll have to do for now…
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The Gray Man