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Not I (2000)

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A young woman sits down in a chair. Only her mouth is visible as she begins to speak at a rapid clip, describing events that she insists did not really happen to her.

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A young woman sits down in a chair. Only her mouth is visible as she begins to speak at a rapid clip, describing events that she insists did not really happen to her.

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Featured in Check the Gate: Putting Beckett on Film (2003) See more »

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Walpurgis Night
Composed by Iain Ballamy
Performed by Iain Ballamy and Joanna MacGregor
Courtesy of SoundCircus SC002 Outside in Pianist
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Astounding, confusing, transfixing.
5 July 2001 | by (Wales) – See all my reviews

As part of Channel 4's Beckett On Film season, Neil Jordan directed Julianne Moore in Not I. A technical feat to see on stage as all you see is a mouth. It was also filmed with Billie Whitelaw in the 1970s.

This production began quite differently in that you saw Moore come into view, sit down and then the light hit her mouth. But for the rest of it, that's all you saw.

It appears as if the mouth is being prompted by an unseen and unheard person because of the halting nature of the speech. It is as if the mouth is being asked questions (notably about "the buzzing"). At four separate points of the film, the mouth says "no... she" as if it is being asked "was this you?" It is clear that this is her own experience but wishes to refute it.

It was confusing to watch initially as the camera did not stay still, but the hypnotic rhythm of Moore's voice and the wonderful writing of Beckett kept me transfixed. Difficult to understand but technically amazing, it was worth seeing.


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