Asylum (2005) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Scoop's notes in white

Asylum starts out as kind of a 1950s version of Lady Chatterley's Lover. A new administrator moves into a mental health care facility in the English countryside. His marriage seems loveless and virtually passionless, and his wife is obviously frustrated and bored by her life on the campus. She ends up starting a passionate affair with the gardener, who is a young, lusty and Russell Crowe-lookin' mofo. Of course, in this situation she's taking a bigger risk than Lady Chatterley, because her gardener is also a patient in the asylum, and a rather dangerous one at that, one who killed his wife in a particularly gruesome fashion. The affair leads to some unfortunate consequences, a simple summary of which would read "tragedy ensues."

Some have described Asylum as a psychological thriller, perhaps because it features several psychologists as characters, although nothing seems to explain the "thriller" portion of the equation. I believe the film would best be described as a particularly over-the-top gothic romance, even though that may not be a fair description of the source novel, which seems to be respected as an analysis of female subservience in the repressed culture of Britain in the 50s.

Critical reaction was divided:

  • The best reviews offered comments like this one from "There are times when one might be tempted to dismiss Asylum as too opaque in its explanation for why Stella does the often wretched things she does. But patience is well rewarded: It takes full running time of the movie for the story's complete design to become clear."
  • The worst reviews were pretty bad indeed. The Washington Post called it "unfortunate, tragic and appallingly, infuriatingly, time-wastingly stupid."

I wouldn't go as far as the Post, but I found the melodramatic plot twists to be bordering on the absurd and capable of testing the patience of even the most tolerant viewer, which I am certainly not.



  • No features except the original trailer
  • the transfer is anamorphically enhanced, and is not especially vivid



Natasha Richardson (breast, bum, and procto-cam) and Marton Csonkas (bum) provide substantial nudity in several sex scenes, and Ms Richardson adds more flesh in two bathing scenes. It seemed that Natasha had given up screen nudity, but here she is, 13 years after her last nude scene, looking absolutely great without her clothing, and showing us her body in good light! Who would have predicted that?

Tuna's notes in yellow

Asylum (2005) is an English indie about the wife (Natasha Richardson) of a rising public health psychiatrist, and her Lady Chatterley-like affair with one of the patients. There are no likeable people in this film, with the possible exception of the retiring director of the asylum. It is peopled by Stepford Wives of stuffy shrinks with private agendas, a snotty husband more concerned with work than family, a brat of a young son, the mother-in-law from hell and Richardson's character, who was entirely too self-centered to be sympathetic.

I generally do not like films full of people I would not voluntarily spend time with in real life, but this was a noticeable exception. I have no idea if this was a love story, a psychological thriller, or an indictment of the mental health system of the 50s, but, whatever it was, it held my interest. The demographics at IMDb predicted that this film would appeal to young women and older men, but I am at a loss to explain why, or why I enjoyed this - perhaps because the sex scenes had a great deal of raw passion and perhaps because the story was not entirely predictable.

The Critics Vote ...

  • British consensus out of four stars: less than two stars. Mail 2/10, Telegraph 2/10, Independent 6/10, Guardian 2/10, Times 4/10, Sun 6/10, Express 8/10, FY 4/10, BBC 3/5.

The People Vote ...

  • It grossed $370,000, maxing out on 55 screens.
The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics, or a C- from our system. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or a D on our scale. (Possibly even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, both reviewers agree that the correct rating seems to be a C, although Tuna liked it and Scoop was bored to tears.

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