He Who Must Not Have a Nose
With “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” the saga of the young wizard becomes steeped in allegory. It’s hard not to watch David Yates’ adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s fifth Potter novel and its themes of corruption in the Ministry of Magic, media manipulation and other worldly concerns without seeing it as the first Potter film with one foot in magic and the other in true, adult reality.
But beyond Harry’s battles against the ministry and its efforts to cover up the return of Lord Voldemort (played with supreme creepiness by Ralph Fiennes), “Phoenix” is particularly interesting because Yates infuses the film with other types of realism. Witness how Harry’s cousin, Dudley Dursley, has become what is called a “chav” in British slang — a thug with gold chains who talks like a yob — and how Yates exhibits better than any other previous “Potter” director how a real London co-exists with the wizarding world.
Like the previous two films in the series, “Phoenix” compresses a great deal from the book, so some characters such as Nymphadora Tonks (Natalia Tena) just seem to be passing through. But evil-insane Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham Carter) gets more time, and it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Carter doing justice to the scenery-chewing role. Yates, who will return for “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” does not transform the series like Alfonso Cuaron did with “Prisoner of Azkaban,” but he is proving to be a good steward of Rowling’s characters and intent, and for rabid fans of the series, that can be all that matters.