Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint look — and act — significantly older here than in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. They’re adults, with all the hang-ups, responsibilities and foibles that implies. Deathly Hallows — Part I puts them through a variety of paces — loyalty, jealousy and mistrust swirl among them — and each actor hits his or her mark. How did the producers know when they cast these three as little tykes that they would mature so surely into their iconic roles?
Grint, as usual, is the standout, not only for his comic relief, but also for the everyman practicality he brings to his scenes. To put it in another generation’s fantasy terms: He’s the Han Solo to Radcliffe’s Luke Skywalker.
As for Watson, she ably carries the movie’s more bittersweet moments, including an early one in which she uses a spell to erase herself from her parents’ memories so that she can join Harry and Ron. Later, she conjures a wreath for a grave stone. I knew magic could be dark — there is plenty of that in Deathly Hallows — Part I — but who knew it could also be so sad?