Realism and fantasy collide in Jonathan Lethem's genre-bending coming-of-age story, which follows two estranged brothers as they try to leave New York City for a new life in California only... See full summary »
Anthony M. Bertram
Wisconsin Death Trip is an intimate, shocking and sometimes hilarious account of the disasters that befell one small town in Wisconsin during the final decade of the 19th century. The film ... See full summary »
A motiveless malignancy? Elvis leaves the Navy and heads for Texas where he contacts his father, whom he's never met, the pastor at a Christian community church. Pastor Dave tells Elvis to stay away and, without telling his family that Elvis is his son from a pre-conversion liaison, tells them to have nothing to do with him. But Elvis has already connected with Malerie, the pastor's 16-year old daughter. Elvis embarks on the seduction of Malerie, while Dave examines his conscience and comes to a new conclusion. Can anyone get right with the Lord? Does the Lord hear? Written by
This is a nasty piece of work. It's also an impressive piece of work, a sour and cynical dark comedy of a twisted kind of Americana by the young British director James Marsh, making his feature film debut. Elvis, (Gael Garcia Bernal), gets out of the navy and heads off in search of his daddy, the man who sired him and then abandoned him. Daddy, once a sinner, has now reformed and is a preacher with his own church. Bit by bit Elvis worms his way into the family circle, taking no prisoners on the way.
There are moments of shocking, unexpected violence and you are always left with a nasty taste in the mouth but at the same time, you are never quite sure which way the film is going to turn. In some respects it's a bit like Pasolini's "Theorem" but when I spoke to the director at the Dublin Film Festival he said he had never seen "Theorem", (but surely he must have known what it was about?), but did admit to being influenced in part by Dennis Potter's "Brimstone and Treacle".
It's a deeply unpleasant little picture but it is very well directed, (it feels unpolished, unfinished, rough around the edges which is just as it should be), and both Gael Garcia Bernal and William Hurt as his preacher father are superb. Bernal is like some beautiful, rotten fallen angel. Is he seeking redemption or total damnation? Hurt, too long in the doldrums, is on a run at the moment. With this, and Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" under his belt, he is very much back on form. See it certainly, but don't expect to be entertained.
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