Death in Venice. Ifans, Schwimmer and DiStefano
dir-scr Mike Figgis
with Rhys Ifans, David Schwimmer, Saffron Burrows, Max Beesley, Salma Hayek, Jason Isaacs, Lucy Liu, Andrea Di Stefano, Julian Sands, Chiara Mastroianni, Heathcote Williams, Valeria Golino, Danny Huston, Ornella Muti, Burt Reynolds, John Malkovich
release UK 5.Apr.02; US 25.Jul.03
02/UK 1h55

1 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
Mike Figgis takes the experimentation he did with Timecode a step further here, combining the multi-screen approach with just about every other film technique imaginable. The problem isn't the style; it's the story. Set around a Venice hotel, it focusses on a Dogme movie crew with a freewheeling director (Ifans) and an edgy producer (Schwimmer), a pushy TV journalist (Hayek) and the strange nighttime goings-on of the hotel staff (Sands, Mastroianni, Huston, et al). People are disappearing, the director is in a lucid coma, the actors (Burrows, Beesley, Isaacs, et al) are carrying on. A hitman (Di Stefano) is on the loose. And so on.

There are some strokes of genius in this film, but it's just far too bizarre to work. The plot is so insane that we never get a grip on what's going on, so we never care at all about the characters or situations. This leaves it feeling soulless, like a big moviemaking in-joke we're left outside of, poking fun at Dogme and playing on porn and horror genres with over-the-top sex and violence. While major chunks of The Duchess of Malfi overwhelm the story completely. On the other hand, there are some terrific scenes--comedy and drama that's both funny and creepy (like David Lynch), and above all astonishing experimentation with cameras, film stocks, editing and improvisation. Yet despite the bits that work brilliantly, the movie as a whole really only works as an experimental curiosity.
themes, nudity, gore, language cert 15 20.Mar.02

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "I watched this film last night on an imported DVD (I am almost certain it will never get a theatrical release in this country), and was blown away. It was weird, it was strange, it was odd, it was brilliant. It was largely trashed by the critics, but I found it incredibly exciting and surprisingly funny. Yes, it is a meandering and largely plotless work, with some sequences that are so confronting they were hard to watch. But if you give Mike Figgis, his video camera and a terrific ensemble of fearless actors a chance, they will take you on a journey that is at turns hilarious, thought-provoking and always original. Check it out." --Jarrod McKewen, Melbourne 15.Jan.03
2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall