First there's the legend: King Arthur, Camelot, the Knights of the Round Table. Then, the reality: raw cityscapes, hard edges, crammed designs.
Then, there's Max (Elden Henson), the 13-year-old in size 14 shoes, who lives in the basement of his grandparents' house. There's nothing magical about the place. Grim and Gram (Harry Dean Stanton and Gena Rowlands) have learned to live outside illusion, in a perpetual state of fear, as Max's father (James Gandolfini) is soon to be released from prison. He killed his wife and Max saw. Max was there. He doesn't remember it, though. He's slow in wit and short on courage. He's massive and gentle: an obedient giant. And then, one day, there's Freak.
Freak (Kieran Culkin) has a fascination for words. He's tiny, smart, unnerving -- an old soul trapped inside the failing body of a boy. With a hunched back and leg braces, there's little he can do outside the fantastic world of his imagination. But in there, he's the absolute Master of the Game. He can rescue damsels in distress; he can build unlikely flying machines; he can reach beyond the clouds and catch, in the palm of his hand, rich, palpable, twitching words from other stories.
"A knight proves his worth through his deeds," says Freak. And so they meet: Freak, the Mighty, who needs a pair of legs, and Max, the Giant, who needs a brain. Together they are untouchable.
One false move and Peter Chelsom's film would have slipped down the dangerous path of Simon Birch. But there is no falsity in The Mighty, no sentimental blackmail, no stereotype. A cross between a revisionist Land of Oz and a modern Camelot, The Mighty bows before the power of imagination, its formidable world populated with characters to match: Grim, straight out of the American Gothic tradition; Freak's mother (Sharon Stone), "the Fair Gwen of Air"; Loretta (Gillian Anderson), a figure reminiscent of Miss Havisham.
There are great expectations in The Mighty and they are all fulfilled at the end, as the camera withdraws, quietly, from the site of this excellent adventure.
E-mail comments to email@example.com.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.
Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.
Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.
Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.