In a house haunted with memories, gangster and father Ulysses Pick (Jason Patric) arrives home after a long absence towing the body of a teenaged girl and a bound and gagged young man. His gang waits inside his house, having shot their way past police. There is friction in the ranks. Ulysses, however, is focused on one thing: journeying through the house, room by room, and reaching his wife Hyacinth (Isabella Rossellini) in her bedroom upstairs. His odyssey eventually becomes an emotional tour, as the strange nooks and crannies of the house reveal more about the mysterious Pick family.Written by
Ulysses quotes the first line of this verse from one of Emily Brontë's Gondal poems:
"By dismal rites they win their bliss By penance, fasts, and fears - I have one rite - a gentle kiss One penance - tender tears." See more »
Ulysses is getting closer. I can hear him down there. He's bent on forgiveness, which is much more frightening than revenge.
There will be no forgiveness, Father. That is why I keep you chained at my bed.
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Stumbling out of the theater, my friend said in a small voice, "I think that was even stranger than Hourglass Sanatorium".
This one follows a cast of characters comprising a family whose given names are evocative of literary figures, ways of being, and pretty objects. Unsurprisingly, the character Ulysses is on a rambling quest to find something that may not exist at all -- an adumbrate vision of his wife Hyacinth. Oh, and all he has to do is make it from the first floor of his house to the third.
March (crawl, duck, run) behind them while they are sometimes nude, scraping at things, or shaking dice (there's a joke about masturbation in here somewhere), navigating their bilious house that has a ton of locked doors and a mess of floating dust particles, which -- I'm going out on a limb -- are probably metaphor for the thickness of whatever it is that came between them.
My favorite thematic preoccupation lies in Maddin's stirring portrayal of the fuzzy line between life and death, with figures floating in and out of the frame (and existence), incorporating themselves into deadly vanishing-vignettes that keep recurring, and, corporeal, positioning themselves in zones of the house and grounds that Maddin somehow conveys to the audience are "dead space".
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