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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (2017)
More Information
Director: Ifan Barber
Producer(s): Ifan Barber
Writer(s): Ifan Barber
Composer: Christopher Young
Release: October 12th 2017
Running Time: 135 minutes
Budget: $6 Million
Box Office: $300 Million
Film Chronology
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What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? is a 2017 American psychological thriller film produced and directed by Ifan Barber, starring Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore, about an ageing actress who holds her paraplegic sister captive in an old Hollywood mansion. The screenplay by Ifan Barber is based on the 1960 novel of the same name by Henry Farrell.

Plot

The film is narrated by Blanche Hudson (Julianne Moore).

In 1917, Baby Jane Hudson is a vaudevillian child star while her sister Blanche Hudson is not famous and overlooked by their father. By 1935, both sisters are movie actors, but Blanche has achieved stardom, while Jane’s films have flopped, leading Jane to drink heavily. One night, returning from a party, one of the sisters gets out of the car to open the gate leading up to the house, while the other attempts to run her over. The resulting accident leaves Blanche paralysed.

In 1962, a wheelchair-bound Blanche and a bitter, irritable Jane (Meryl Streep) are living together in Blanche's mansion. Because she is wheelchair-bound, Blanche rarely leaves her bedroom on the second floor and becomes close with her cleaning woman, Elvira (Viola Davis). Elvira believes that Jane is exhibiting symptoms of mental illness and becomes concerned for Blanche's well-being, but Blanche defends her sister. Later, when Blanche informs Jane she may be selling the house, Jane's mental health begins to deteriorate further. During an argument, she removes the telephone from Blanche's bedroom, cutting Blanche off from the outside world. Later, Jane begins denying Blanche food, killing her pet parakeet and serving it to her on a platter. Later, when Jane leaves the house to put an advertisement in the paper, Blanche tries to get the attention of her neighbour, Mrs. Bates (Amy Adams), by writing a note pleading for help and throwing it out her bedroom window. Jane returns in time to notice the note and prevents Mrs. Bates from seeing it. When Jane reads the note, the two sisters quarrel again.

The next time Elvira comes to clean the house, Jane initially pays her and gives her the day off, but when Elvira returns later on, Jane abruptly fires her and sends her away. Meanwhile, Edwin Flagg (Josh Gad) sees Jane's newspaper advertisement for a piano player and arrives at the mansion, where he is officially hired by Jane to help her in her delusional plan to regain her childhood stardom. While Jane drives Edwin home, Blanche searches the house for food and discovers Jane has been forging her signature on checks. Desperate for help, Blanche crawls down the stairs and calls their doctor, telling him of Jane's erratic behaviour and begging him to come to the house. Jane returns in time to find Blanche on the phone and beats her unconscious before imitating her voice over the phone and telling the doctor not to come. She then binds and gags Blanche and locks her back in her upstairs bedroom. Elvira, still suspicious of Jane, returns the next day and discovers Blanche in a weakened and starved state. Before she can rescue her, however, Jane beats Elvira to death with a hammer and disposes of her body.

A week later, the police call the Hudson house and tell Jane that a cousin of her maid reported her missing. Panicking, Jane prepares to leave with her sister. Before they leave, Edwin shows up uninvited, hears a noise in Blanche’s room, and discovers what Jane has done to her. Frightened, Edwin runs away and calls the police, and Jane drives Blanche to the beach. The discovery of Elvira's body is announced in the morning paper. At the beach, Blanche reveals that she was in fact the driver on the night of the car accident and that she tried to run Jane over for being mean to her at the party. Jane had been too drunk to remember what had happened and blamed herself for the accident. Jane responds pensively, "All this time we could have been friends." The police arrive to arrest Jane, and while they tend to Blanche, Jane dances before the puzzled onlookers, believing she once again has the same attention and admiration she received as a child. Unlike the original film when whether Blanche has survived is not revealed, we are shown that the film was Blanche recounting her torture to the police, the final moments show an insane Jane laughing to herself in solitary confinement in a mental institution.

Cast

  • Meryl Streep as Jane Hudson
  • Julianne Moore as Blanche Hudson
  • Josh Gad as Edwin Flagg
  • Viola Davis as Elvira Stitt
  • Amy Adams as Mrs. Bates
  • Jacob Tremblay as Lucas Bates
  • Pam Ferris as Dehlia Flagg
  • Robert Downey, Jr. as Ray Hudson

Critical Reception

The remake was well received by critics, with praise particularly for the performances by the trio of leading women, Streep, Moore and Davis. It currently holds and 84% 'fresh' rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 32 reviews, suggesting 'critical success' and holds 76/100 on Megacritic, implying "favourable reviews".

The film earned 5 oscar nominations at the 2018 ceremony, with Viola Davis earning an award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. It also won awards for Best Costume Design and Best Adapted Screenplay.

The film was also a box office hit, earning over 300 Million USD worldwide.

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