(2005)1.5Derek ArmstrongTerry Gilliam has never directed a totally mainstream film, but none of his work could be characterized as downright inaccessible until now. In fact, Tideland is so out there, Gilliam personally delivers a forewarning on the DVD, acknowledging that many viewers will hate this movie. (Perhaps this preamble was a way to take back the power from those critics who'd already told him as much.) As is often the case when Gilliam misfires, it's much more fundamental than a question of minor decisions made during filming. Here, it's "Why did Terry Gilliam want to make a movie about a girl who prances across a moribund prairie while holding conversations with her severed doll heads?" Gilliam is still capable of great strengths within an overall framework of disastrous judgment, and from Jodelle Ferland, he coaxes what may be one of the most fearless and naturalistic performances ever given by a child actor. The young actress is so good, in fact, that one almost credits her with the emotional maturity to handle the horrifying material Gilliam puts onscreen -- namely, not one, but two parents dying of graphic drug overdoses. For fans anticipating the reunion of Jeff Bridges and his Fisher King director, it's short-lived, as Bridges' character dies so quickly it doesn't even qualify as a spoiler to reveal it. That, coupled with the even earlier departure of Jennifer Tilly at her skuzziest, leaves altogether too much time for Jeliza-Rose to amble around in her fantasy world and forge a bizarre relationship with her closest neighbors: a taxidermist with an eye patch (Janet McTeer) and her mentally handicapped brother (Brendan Fletcher). Gilliam has developed a cult following based on his films' freedom from rules. But the man needs to be held accountable when his tunnel vision leads to places like Tideland.