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|Suspension of Disbelief|
dir-scr Mike Figgis
prd Vito Di Rosa
with Sebastian Koch, Lotte Verbeek, Rebecca Night, Eoin Macken, Melia Kreiling, Lachlan Nieboer, Kenneth Cranham, Julian Sands, Emilia Fox, Sara Lewerth, Naoko Mori, Frances de la Tour
release UK 19.Jul.13
Interior. Martin's Room: Verbeek and Koch
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
A playful exploration of the act of writing fiction, this low-budget production isn't quite up to writer-director Figgis' wildly ambitious approach. Its gimmicks hold our interest, even though the characters aren't much more than outline sketches. And we never get involved in the film's central mystery.
Screenwriter Martin (Koch) lectures at a London film school as his long-awaited next script finally goes into production starring his daughter Sarah (Night). At her 25th birthday party, he becomes fixated with her friend Angelique (Verbeek). And when she's found dead in a canal the next day, a police inspector (Cranham) settles on Martin as the chief suspect, party because his wife (Fox) has been missing for 15 years. Then Angelique's twin Therese (also Verbeek) turns up to complicate things.
Figgis' recent films have all been experimental, and this one continually pushes us outside its story with self-referential trickery, such as having someone finding a script on a table and reading the scene in which they find this script on this table. The point is echoed in on-screen titles, scene-within-scene set-pieces and of course the fact that the object of everyone's attention is a twin. And this navel-gazing indulgence continues right to the point where Martin contemplates whether his film should have an ambiguous ending or not.
Fortunately, it's just intriguing enough to make us curious, not because of the drama but because we're trying to untangle the rat's nest of narrative strands. None of the trails lead anywhere particularly interesting, partly because the characters are all so schematic. And the actors are icy and aloof, mainly because they're playing characters within characters. So as they swirl around in Figgis' noir atmospherics, all of their witty suggestiveness refuses to take us anywhere.
The film opens with a comment from Jung about how readers suspend disbelief because they put themselves into the stories they read. But there has to be internal logic for this to happen, and Figgis never develops that. Using split screen and washed-out video, he merrily undercuts our expectations to the point where we have none left. This leaves the film feeling like a surreal Lynchian odyssey without the eerie sense of resonance. And in the end, as the students discuss lazy movie endings, we worry that we're headed for one ourselves.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S|
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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