Ev­ery­thing’s gone to Pot

Daniel Rad­cliffe is wild and crazed in his new film, Jun­gle, but can he ever es­cape his past?

The Guardian - The Guide - - Film - Steve Rose

It is no spoiler to re­veal that, by the end of Jun­gle, Daniel Rad­cliffe is lost in the wild; crazed and scream­ing at the sky. He doesn’t know where he is or even who he is. They should’ve called it Harry Pot­ter and the Crash­ingly Ob­vi­ous Metaphor: Rad­cliffe has been roam­ing the wilder­ness seek­ing life be­yond Pot­ter for years.

A fa­mil­iar route for ac­tors post-big-bud­get fran­chise is to throw them­selves into the edgi­est, least type­cast roles. Last year brought the stren­u­ously bizarre Swiss Army Man, in which he played a corpse whose mirac­u­lous flat­u­lence and mag­netic erec­tion helped Paul Dano out of the wilder­ness. Rad­cliffe in­sisted on ap­pear­ing in ev­ery scene, sub­ject­ing him­self to myr­iad in­dig­ni­ties in what felt more like a masochis­tic penance than a ca­reer rein­ven­tion. Else­where, he’s tried straight hor­ror (Vic­tor Franken­stein, Horns), indie rom­com (What

If) and beat­nik drama (as Allen Gins­berg in Kill Your Dar­lings).

While his roles are var­ied, the process re­mains sim­i­lar. Rad­cliffe busts a gut try­ing to be un-Pot­ter­like. The celebrity press cries “You won’t BE­LIEVE what Harry Pot­ter’s done now!” And the pub­lic sighs “Meh” at the av­er­age end prod­uct. His only post-Pot­ter hit has been The Woman in Black. None of this is to say he’s a bad ac­tor – he’s had good re­views for stage work such as 2007’s Equus – but is clearly get­ting bad ad­vice. You feel sym­pa­thy for him, as he was thrust into star­dom at a young age, but he’s start­ing to look like the Pot­ter movies’ Mark Hamill.

Rub­bing salt into the wound is Emma Wat­son, who grad­u­ated from Hog­warts with all the req­ui­site qual­i­fi­ca­tions – chiefly De­fence Against the Dark Arts. Jun­gle will play on a few dozen UK screens; Wat­son’s Beauty and the Beast for Dis­ney is the high­est-gross­ing of 2017. She has also done her indie gap year, with sev­eral flops (The Cir­cle, Re­gres­sion, The Colony). Plus a mod­el­ling ca­reer, a de­gree from Brown Univer­sity and an UN good­will am­bas­sador role.

So, who’s the ex­cep­tion, Rad­cliffe or Wat­son? Look­ing at the rest of the “big seven”, as JK Rowl­ing dubbed them, there hasn’t been a lot to send an owl home about. Ru­pert “Ron Weasley” Grint’s most prom­i­nent role so far has been in an Ed Sheeran mu­sic video. Tom “Draco” Fel­ton, Matthew “Neville” Lewis and Evanna “Luna” Lynch all get by as ac­tors. Bon­nie “Ginny” Wright is di­rect­ing. Those with min­i­mal ex­po­sure, such as Domh­nall Gleeson, Robert Pat­tin­son and Clé­mence Poésy, are the real break­outs. Is it safe to speak of the curse of Pot­ter? JK had bet­ter sharpen her quill be­cause it’s all point­ing to one thing: se­quels I Jun­gle is in Cin­e­mas from 20 Oct

The trou­ble with Harry Daniel Rad­cliffe in (left to right) Jun­gle; Harry Pot­ter and the Pris­oner of Azk­a­ban; Swiss Army Man

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