Director: Tim Burton
Cast: Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Vincent Price
Other: Writers: Tim Burton and Caroline Thompson; Cinematography: Stefan Czapsky, Original Music: Danny Elfman
Year and Running Time: US 1990, 105 minutes
Year Screened: 2010
Pegs, the Avon Lady, finds Edward lonely and isolated in an old mansion where his inventor has died before giving him hands - instead he has shears. He soon blossoms when invited to her home, dazzling with his hairdressing and topiary skills and falling in love with her daughter Kim. However, the idyll does not last as there are jealousies over his close friendship with the family and concerns about and fear of his differentness increase. He is accused of crimes of which he is innocent and increasingly shunned by most of the neighbours.
Depp, at his best, brings a moving pathos to the role of Edward giving “a silent-movie performance, relying on his movements to communicate everything that is needed” [Josh Larsen], an outsider longing to be accepted. Burton uses the setting of suburbia, all pastel bungalows and surreal shrubbery, to satirical effect commenting on the loneliness of the artist in a world that does not understand or accept difference, a world where the bizarre is lurking just at the edge of ordinary, a theme to which he returns in later films. With excellent support from Wiest as the sympathetic Pegs this is a bittersweet timeless fable.