“Felicia’s Journey” is probably the quietest, gentlest movie about a serial killer ever made — which just makes it all the more unsettling.
If you weren’t paying attention, you’d think this was a quaint little Jane Austen movie, with genteel men and down-on-their-luck women mingling in a drearily picturesque London, having each other for tea and saying witty things to their butlers.
But, no, it’s about a guy who kills women and buries them in his backyard. Jane Austen never wrote about that (but she should have).
Bob Hoskins is Joseph Ambrose Hilditch, a caterer who is the very personification of polite subservience. His mother was a famous TV chef, whose domineering role in his life is what made him what he is now.
Joseph runs into Felicia (Elaine Cassidy), an Irish gal who has come to England to find her boyfriend, who left to find work, not knowing that Felicia was pregnant. Turns out he wasn’t just leaving to “find work”; he was leaving her altogether, which puts the mom-to-be in a desperate situation.
Joseph takes her under his wing, helping her run her errands and driving her around town. Mixed with this, we see brief flashbacks of Joseph’s previous interactions with desperate young women, and numerous television clips of him being made uncomfortable on his mom’s cooking show.
Hoskins is entirely in control as this character; indeed, the character himself seems to be the most controlled, reserved person you’ve ever seen, quietly doing his job and speaking in soft, gentle tones. If there is rage or fury in him, we don’t see it — and therein lies the terror.
This is a movie that scares you, but you don’t realize how much until it’s nearly over. The suspense and tension build so subtly you hardly notice it, until you discover your hands clenching the arm rest and wonder how they got that way.
As has been proven time and time again in movies, what is NOT shown is scarier and more provocative than what is shown. All of the violence here is left to our imaginations, as we’re left to fret over what MIGHT happen to Felicia.
A- (1 hr., 56 min.; )