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According to Joan Collins, Decadence was Steven Berkoff's debut as a director and film maker. And it is very apparent in this film. Collins, in her book Second Act, describes her work on the film in a chapter entitled 'The Ego has landed' and she writes of Berkoff that not only was he the director of the picture but also "the writer and the egomaniac and the control freak". And I have to tell you, its awfully obvious when watching this silly piece of wildly unrestrained self-indulgence.
Now I don't usually have a problem with self-indulgence. A lot of people criticise the work of Fellini as self-indulgent. However Fellini carries of his work with a dazzling visual style and a flair unmatched by most film makers. Decadence really is just what its title claims: decadent with money, decadent with a film crew and decadent with talent. Berkoff's performance and his direction (including the way he directed Joan Collins) is so far off the mark it is not funny. The whole thing from script to acting to design to direction is so grossly exaggerated that this film becomes a real pain in the....well, just a pain in every part of the body.
'Why though?' I hear you ask - well obviously, and according to Joan, there was no one there to control Steven or pull him in a bit. Everything is over the top to the point of stupidity. There is nothing with which to contrast his manic performances. And delivering a whole film in rhyme also gets on one's nerves. And I would not like to be the person who came up with that criminal music score. Maybe it was Steven as well...
At the end of the day, this isn't a very good film. Basically it's an ego trip for Steven. He spends the majority of the film showing off, and grossly showing off. Maybe one is supposed to be dazzled by how clever he is, and how talented he is and how wonderfully absurd he is and how funny he is. I wasn't. In fact probably a 12 year old boy could do a better job.
Absurd or Avant-Garde films, I think, are great. Decadence is not. It just goes to show not everyone can make an avant-garde film. It does actually require some talent and ability.
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