Hey, Hey Honey Take a Whiff On Me
A few years later in 2005, Elijah Wood, now in his mid 20s, starred in the film adaptation of the Jonathan Safran Foer novel, Everything Is Illuminated. As directed by Liev Schreiber, this uneven movie had a lyrical, impressionistic beauty, one that simultaneously suggested the amplifying and clarifying powers contained in the imagination.
Elijah Wood, wearing a fusty, black suit and nerd glasses, moved wide-eyed and tentative through the film. There was a little bit of the "sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it..." corn of American Beauty to the portrayal, but it was interesting, too. With his weirdly vivid eyes, that seemed to be devouring the human world for the first time, Wood was mannered and disconnected. You could see something creepy lurking beneath the surface, and it was clear that Wood could be a serial killer just as easily as the sensitive, hothouse flower he was portraying.
In Sin City, which came out the same year, this freak-factor was realized. The movie itself was a world of terrific -- sexy, surprising, and luridly violent, it was a visual masterpiece that was engrossing from start to finish. Wood played Kevin, a mute serial killer with evil eyes. It was perfect casting, I think, transforming what had been angelic to the demonic.
There's a separateness in Elijah Wood, and the older he gets, the more perverse it becomes. He could become this generation's Anthony Perkins, and the eyes that as a boy seemed all consuming and innocent, almost holy, might eventually be remembered for projecting a pitiless and uncomprehending evil.
Michael Murray is a freelance writer. For the last three and a half years he's written a weekly column for the Ottawa Citizen about watching television. He presently lives in Toronto. You can find more of his musings on his blog, or check out his Facebook page.