Much like the recent surprise, The Vast of Night, this festival indie embraces its own strong point of view. In this case, though, the style is more magic realism than 50s scifi/horror homage. From the gorgeous opening credits through to the final visuals, it is a feast for the eyes. Your brain, admittedly, needs to take a bit of a holiday about the plot, but your eyes will be happy it did. The art direction and production quality are amazing as you glide through a twisted world of desperation and, for all intents, addiction in a sort of noir-esque tale of money and power. But it’s all kicked off, if not tied up with, a murder mystery that launches the story.
Like Blue Velvet, or the Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, or just about any Jodorowsky, the story quickly slips sideways into a world of its own rules and language. We learn about it as the main characters do…or as they admit they do in any case. It isn’t a rushed journey. Some of the languid pace works for its purpose, though it would have been better for some tightening of shots, edits, and scenes.
But, if nothing else, watch at least the opening credits should you get the chance. If those don’t suck you in, then this flick isn’t for you.
In the end, the story doesn’t quite come together and make sense. This type of fantasy rarely does. However, in this case the logic, fully expanded, implies an undesired outcome, though the movie tries to suggest otherwise. But getting there is really quite a journey of practical effects and visual joy that just kept surprising me.
Check it out for some names you may be seeing again, especially Louise Franco as the art director. I’d also be curious to see what Weston Terray will come up with next to direct; he squeezed a lot out of this story and created a consistent and semi-magical mood out of a tough script (of his own devising). I’d love to see what he could do with a more solid tale and a more vicious editor. Ben Eshbach’s score was also a wonderful compliment to the mood and intent. And if you want a bit more on how it all came together, check out this discussion with Terray at FlimInk.