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This film was so outrageously well-constructed it makes me want to
start a blog about films that are outrageously well-constructed.
Both the story in and of itself as well as the masterful execution of its telling demonstrate a stylistic specificity that is nothing short of elegant. The movie manages to be a dozen different things at once, including:
1. The Celebration of Hitchcock Iconoclasm As the titular homage suggests, Pervertigo is a glorious cinematic salute to Alfred Hitchcock. The film revolves around Lloyd, (played by Martin Monahan) a down-on-his-luck repairmen of small electrical appliances whose lonely, Peeping-Tom habits have left him once without a home. Desperation drives him to a landlord of questionable repute, and he spends the rest of the film in a five-day nightmare in which he may or may not assassinate his landlord's wife. The script alone could act as a checklist for Hitchcock's trademark subject matter, with thematic references on everything from sexual voyeurism and fringe cultures to the practically required parallels between food and death. Nothing not even the brandy is forgotten. This is a film that is painstakingly rich with details. Everything set, costumes, sound, lighting lives with a carefully measured heartbeat. Each shot is a purposeful photograph, and we as the audience are always placed just that one step too close to be comfortable.
2. The Subtle Subversion of the Film Noir This is a world of dark shadows and long silences, and all the elements that you've come to expect from that world will be there. Ordinary (but gently traumatized) men end up in dangerous circumstances, of course, and along the long string of seemingly innocuous circumstances that lead them there, you can almost always find wealthy eccentrics of dubious morality and mysterious women in trench coats. What makes Pervertigo so innovative is the bent of near-Brechtian comedy with which these elements are gently twisted. One of my favorite moments early in the movie happens when Lloyd is kidnapped and inevitably stuffed into the conventional trunk of the car; like so much else in the movie, the sense of fear battles with simple absurdity, and neither tone is allowed to wholly win.
3. The Classic Buddy Comedy It's a testament to Monahan's tremendous gifts as an actor that Lloyd becomes a character we can cheer for despite his unseemly proclivities. Without backing away from the whatever internal ugliness drives the kind of privacy violations Lloyd can't seem to live without, Monahan finds a loneliness about Lloyd that is more than sympathetic it's quite funny. When Lloyd ends up bunking at the home of his detested coworker, a similarly socially awkward and lonely young man, though one without Lloyd's little problem the film finds itself in Odd Couple territory, and it's the perfect break from the danger driving the rest of the movie. We find ourselves rooting that these two crazy kids will somehow find in each other the strange Lemmon-and-Matheau-esque friendship they both seem to need so badly.
If I had the power, I would go one to explain the ways this movie becomes an anti-hero anthem, or all the tiny moments that make it the perfect post-modern Coming-of-Age drama but none of that is the point. The point is that if you have the chance to see this movie, go, now, immediately. But fair warning: you may end up wanting to become a blogger.
Nowadays, it's hard to find a really amusing and at the same time
devilishly clever comedy that is as positively ridiculous as it is
suspenseful. Pervertigo proves to be sort of a fresh eye- opener, in
the sense that it unhesitatingly ponders sex and deviations in the most
expressive manner, and shows the audiences that the infamous Peeping
Tom routine can actually be attributed to each and every one of us.
After all, people find great pleasure in watching others from a safe
place somewhere in the distance, don't they?
Lloyd the protagonist of the film exemplifies the 'bored' generation. He doesn't have any ambitions or certain goals in his life. Living in a peculiarly quiet and peaceful town, he spends every day working at a small shop, which specializes in repairing electronic devices. However, under cover of darkness he shows his true nature 'almost' like James Stewart in Rear Window Lloyd grabs his precious binoculars and snoops on (mostly naked) women living across the street. Unfortunately, his perverted presence is detected. After a few strong insults and comparatively heavy punches Lloyd is forced to move out. For an overt deviant without any previous living references finding a new home isn't that easy. And still, when Lloyd finally moves into a narrow yet cozy apartment, his neighbor gives him an offer he (rather) can't refuse big money for spying on a disloyal wife. This awkward yet seemingly innocent proposition is the cause for Lloyd's gradual plunge into the depths of sick and twisted madness. His growing affection for the woman turns out to be a quick way towards total chaos. One problem creates another one, and soon the broke and distressed Lloyd finds himself on a path with no return.
Blending what's best in Tarantino and Rodriguez's dark humor, Pervertigo gives a credible amount of unforeseen and entertaining twists. The film only confirms that first impressions can be greatly misleading. Many people, perfectly normal on the outside, are capable of doing very sick and awful things. After a while it becomes clear that Lloyd even given his affection towards peeping at other people's intimate moments is actually the most ordinary and the most innocent guy in the crowd of many twisted and insane characters that the viewers see on screen. Here we have a lonely nerd who loves cosplaying and irritating others around him; a killer, whose only weakness is Doo-woop music; a long-legged, beautiful blonde who loves to play perverted games; a repair-shop boss who is only interested in abusing others and picking up women; and finally, a mysterious and strange neighbor who loves eating snow cones every day.
Pervertigo not only makes one laugh, but also makes one think. Think about the omnipresence of perversity in the contemporary world, and the way this picture corresponds to people's most hidden and demoralizing needs. What's more, this satisfying crime-comedy plays a game with the idea of cinema in general after all, it's safe to say that watching films is a lot like watching others, just without the risk of being caught.
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