Personal odyssey. Charlie (Futterman) hits the streets in search of answers to questions he can't even ask...
SHADOWS MUST-SEE |
dir Jon Shear
scr Daniel Reitz, Jon Shear
with Dan Futterman, Samuel Ball, Matt Keeslar, Josh Hamilton, Alan Cumming, Lothaire Bluteau, Paige Turco, Barbara Sukowa, Gabriel Olds, Bill Sage, Megan Dodds, David Wheir
release US 8.Sep.00; UK 23.Mar.09 dvd
Heard any good stories lately? Thus begins this brilliant little film that traces an overnight odyssey into the heart and soul of both urban mythology and a troubled young man.
Charlie (Futterman) is driven to distraction by everything around him ... and the fact that everyone he meets has a story to tell, most of which are folk tales involving a friend of a friend. And as he wanders into the night, his own story starts to take shape as we realise he's desperately missing his boyfriend Chris (Keeslar), and he's seeking answers to unasked questions in a friendly bartender (Hamilton), an old friend (Cumming), a homeless stutterer (Bluteau), a soap star (Olds), a pair of noisy neighbours (Sage and Dodds), a local con man (Wheir) and, most notably, a tattooed mystery man (Ball) "who's going to make everything right" ... somehow.
Shear's sense of visual style is astonishing, getting us into Charlie's heart and mind with real visual and thematic flourish, filling the frames with colour and humour (much of which is dark and hilarious, like the appearance of a woman with her soaking wet poodle!), and letting us hear the sounds of the city. Soon our own paranoia is reaching Charlie's levels as we take this difficult journey with him to a shattering, revelatory conclusion.
The sharp, vivid performances help keep us involved as well, with Futterman providing a perfect centre point--perplexed, broken, angry and bitter yet strong, tenacious and hopeful at the same time. And just when we start to get tired of the film's kaleidoscopic wandering, when all the disparate elements seem like they will never come together, the film snaps clearly and stunningly into focus with a powerful punch that is so lightly and sensitively handled that it nearly takes our breath away. This tricky, complex finale examines deeply meaningful themes in a way that gets far beneath our skin. And it makes this film utterly essential.