By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
When Shane Carruth first hit the scene with Primer, critics and movielovers didn’t know how to take it. His time travel film was difficult, convoluted, and nothing less than fascinating- a work of art that was so detailed and meticulously thought out that it was clear we were dealing with a bold new cinematic voice, even if nobody could quite understand all that it was saying.
Not for lack of effort
First off, here’s a raise of the glass to Shane Carruth. As he demonstrated with Primer, and now this, he’s a man with a unique vision and the passion to tell his stories exactly how he wants to, leading him to write, direct, star in, compose the music for, shoot, and edit his own film, all professionally and to great success. One day I’d like to see him walk away with like eight Oscars, leaving hundreds of disappointed stars in his wake.
He’s the Eddie Murphy of not being Eddie Murphy
If you’ve seen Primer, you’ll recognize the convoluted, cerebral storytelling, but what will floor you I show far Carruth has come technically. This film, full of immaculately framed shots and nature-focused close-ups straight out of Tree of Life, is gorgeous to look at, and its sound design may be even more impressive. The acting takes second billing to the atmospherics, but is still good, particularly Amy Seimetz, who’s quite the multi-hyphenate herself, with her directorial feature debut, Sun Don’t Shine, drawing its own critical acclaim.
So, about that plot. This is the kind of film that makes you scramble for message boards, reviews, and director interviews once it’s over to test the many questions and theories that are crowding your mind. Honestly, I’d be doing you a disservice to reveal my theories about what the film is all about outside of a broad focus on the connections that exist between people and people, and people and nature, especially love, and how these connections create a whole greater than and unique from the sum of its parts.
Which is the second way it reminded me of The Human Centipede
Besides visual sumptuousness and narrative confusion, Carruth takes another page out of Terrence Malick’s playbook with his use of dialogue- it’s sparse, unclarifying, and much like many critics said of Malick’s latest, To the Wonder, sometimes sounds more like a Chanel ad than actual human speech. Of all the fantastical and unreal things in this film, I found a few clunky lines like “I’m married to you. I’m marrying you, understand?” took me out of the rhythm of the film more than anything.
After a nine year hiatus, director Shane Carruth cements his status as one of the most exciting, boldly original directors working today. Here’s hoping he delivers his next much more quickly than that.
Take a Drink: every time you see a worm or a pig
Take a Drink: for every still life shot you’d like to frame and put up on your wall
Do a Shot: for any body horror scene that would do David Cronenberg proud