I should warn you, the following content is SPOILERRIFFIC and will completely ruin the movie for you, so don’t click if you haven’t seen it, mmkay?
I could wax lyrical about the cultural and emotional significance of getting to see the return of The X-Files in my favourite city with my bezzer, but she already did it so well I have nothing more to add on that front. Suffice to say my ‘oh it’s just like press night’ nonchalance evaporated right about the time my foot first made contact with the red carpet.
Sure, there may have been some head-shaking and muttering about the ‘There But for the Grace of God Society” on my part, but my crippling self-consciousness about seeming over-excited was thrown by the wayside when I stood in a room full of screaming fans seeing David and Gilly right in front of us. They thanked us for coming, like there was ever any doubt we would. I would have broken into the cinema and camped out if I had to.
The film itself was as certain to be a disappointment as it was impossible to disappoint me. There was no perfect resolution I expected, I just wanted to check in, to see if everything was as I had left it. For the most part it was.
Let’s start positive though: in-jokes a-plenty, with the appearance of pencils being a particularly nice touch. The appearance of one Mr Mitch Pileggi was a superb bonus, though he was underused. I was enraged by the mere presence of Amanda Peet, but her pretty swift demise was as horrific as I could have hoped for. Billy Connolly! Billy freakin’ Connolly! In a real, proper film, doing his best BBC Scotland voice. Awesome. Plus, kickass! Scully in one of the best ‘whack’ ‘pow’ moments outside of a comic book.
On a more critical note, I have my reservations. It’s no secret that I absolutely adore Gillian Anderson, and as an actress I’ve never found reason to fault her. Here she did the best she could, but the material just seemed an awkward fit, a little as though Chris Carter had forgotten how to write Scully. We concluded that the entire final season of ‘whine, whine, whataboutmybaby’ may well have done for the character we all know and love. The irritating distraction of Dr Scully’s son-substitute dying patient I could have done without. Plus, dude, what is she doing hanging around with the Catholics again? I know she has her necklace, but wasn’t her faith kind of shattered a couple of dozen times?
I found the parallel with stem cell treatment and the Tuskegee acts of the villains a little uncomfortable, it must be said. Which leads me to my central problem with the film, that it just didn’t creep me out that much. Perhaps I’m desensitised by watching too much, um, X-Files, not to mention the scores of gory medical dramas I’ve been watching in the years since, but until axes are being wielded at our favourite agents, the sense of peril is pretty minimal.
I can’t imagine what someone who didn’t watch the series would make of it. Trying to play to the neutrals compromised the ability to deal with the lingering issues of the show, even giving up their (alien) baby became a quick snippet of pillow talk rather than an emotionally wrenching reminder.
One of the non-spoiler previews I read about the film alluded to the sense of time having elapsed, that Mulder and Scully had been ‘together’ for six years and as such their relationship reflected that. It’s probably realistic that they would seem so jaded, both far removed from the life that their relationship was forged in. I could have done without the ‘I’m totally dumping you if you stick with your obsession’ nonsense because HELLO HAVE YOU TWO MET?!
It’s nice that it basically all works out in the end, but it did leave me sort of cold. The film should really be the end of it all, forming a lovely bookmark to the last nine years of my televisual life.