Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism is based on the popular children’s book by the same name. This British film version is set in the town of Briersville and in London and stars Raffey Cassidy as young Molly.
A suitably Gothic-looking orphanage fills the opening scene, followed by a scene in which the young orphan inhabitants endure ongoing ill-treatment by the horrible Miss Adderstone (Lesley Manville). One of the older girls, Molly, hides out in a cupboard where she escapes grim reality by immersing herself in books. Molly’s love of books leads her to the local library whose plinth is marked with the words “Knowledge is Power”. Power is indeed what Molly discovers when she comes across The Incredible Book of Hynotism. In an effort to improve her life and those of her fellow orphans, Molly begins to apply the lessons taught in her hypnotism book. She hypnotises many around her from the nasty Miss Adderstone to the latter’s funny looking pug dog. Molly’s antics propel her on a journey to London where her newfound talent begins to take on a sinister aspect. A life of glitz and glamour ensue, one in which Molly lives out a fake existence, temporarily forgetting what’s really important: her friends. Her adventures are intensified by the antics of the inept Nockman (Dominic Monaghan), a common thief who is after the book (and therefore Molly) for his own dubious reasons.
The refrain “believe in yourself” is one of the messages that come through in this story. But apart from this common Disney theme, there are other more interesting messages to be heard. The city versus country theme promotes a quiet country life; the starlet hype versus genuine friendship promotes the latter; and books and knowledge form a further positive refrain.
I didn’t enjoy Molly’s London episode, and sighed with relief when she returned to the country, the library and her happy world of books. But then perhaps that was the intent of the story: to learn that while knowledge found in books is powerful it needs to be used for good, not evil.
Molly Moon and the Incredible Book of Hypnotism opens at cinemas in South Africa on Friday 23 October 2015.