The Little Stranger
An aristocratic family reckons with its decline.
“How to categorize The Little Stranger?” asked Mark Feeney in The Boston Globe. Set in 1940s England and based on a 2009 novel by Sarah Waters, it’s a ghost story of sorts, yet “the haunting is done by that hardest-to-exorcise of English demons: the class system.” Domhnall Gleeson stars as a country doctor called to the crumbling manor where his mother once worked as a servant. The old mansion fascinates him, and not just because it possibly harbors the restless spirit of a deceased girl. “Like some of the best ghost stories, The Little Stranger is in no hurry to solve its own mystery,” said Justin Chang in the Los AngelesTimes. Gleeson’s Dr. Faraday envies the Ayers family’s gentility, and gradually he is drawn deeply into the drama of their decline. Charlotte Rampling plays the matriarch, who’s never gotten over the death of her first daughter, while Ruth Wilson gives “the movie’s most memorable performance” as a cheeky spinster who captures Faraday’s interest. Strange things happen routinely in the house, but instead of resorting to jump scares, the movie traffics in genuine dread, a dread born of societal change, said David Sims in TheAtlantic.com. “The entire film has the sense of something being profoundly, and mercifully, upended.”