This ill-advised two-part remake in no way measures up to the 1968 classic.
You don’t have to know the old Rosemary’s Baby to hate the new one (NBC, Sunday and Thursday, 9 ET/PT; * ½ out of four), but it helps.
If you have seen the 1968 classic, odds are you will find yourself comparing director Roman Polanski’s subtly frightening, oddly witty take on Ira Levin’s horror novel to the witless, ham-fisted approach chosen by Agnieszka Holland, who directed this lifeless two-part remake. In real time, that miniseries extension adds only about a half-hour to the film, but you’ll feel every minute of it, and then some.
Fans who can get past the direction will then call up memories of Mia Farrow’s fragile, innocent, convent-educated woman-child and put them up against Zoe Saldana’s tougher, take-charge Rosemary. Or they’ll recall Ruth Gordon’s Oscar-winning performance as the seemingly scattered, eccentric old neighbor while watching Carole Bouquet’s gorgeous, sophisticated French replacement. Neither choice is the actors’ fault (Bouquet, in particular, is quite good), but both weaken the story, as does a switch from New York to Paris that takes away so much of what made Rosemary’s Baby so unnerving: the sense that evil lurks in ordinary settings, and innocence is no match for it.
And if you haven’t seen the original? It won’t take you long to recognize this inept remake for the dull, clumsy bore it is.
The bones of the story remain the same. Rosemary and her struggling novelist husband, Guy (a boyishly bland Patrick Adams), move to Paris when he gets a teaching job there. They meet a wealthy, chic French couple, the Castevets (Bouquet and Jason Isaacs), who move them into their apartment building.
The building is lovely, as are all the Parisian locations in the film. But as Rosemary learns, after some investigative work that would make any TV detective proud, it also has a dark past.
She considers moving. But what Rosemary wants most in the world is a child, so when she gets pregnant, thoughts of anything but the baby leave her.
But why does she feel so awful all the time, she wonders? Why is Guy acting so strangely and spending so much time with the Castevets? Oh, and why would a woman who doggedly pursued the identity of a stranger in a picture not follow up when a doctor tells her he has spotted something odd in her sonogram?
If you’re expecting intelligent answers from Rosemary’s Baby, you’re going to be disappointed. Subtlety has no place here; ambiguity and suspense have been jettisoned for random outbreaks of gore paired with comically obvious allusions to Satanism. If you’re still around by the time Rosemary touches a crucifix and feels faint, you should take that as your cue to check out.
There’s a far better Baby out there, longing for your attention.