Friday, July 7, 2006
But the Pollocks arrive hours late and Alice is in a foul mood. She's curt with her hosts and when Richard receives a cell phone call, she bluntly asks, 'Is that one of your whores?' That injects a high level of discomfort into an already uncomfortable evening. Then to finish it off, Alice throws a glass of wine in Richard's face. Not exactly behavior that Miss Manners would approve of. The evening sets the two couples in bold contrast: the young Gettys are still in the honeymoon phase of their marriage whereas the Pollocks are in serious self-destruct mode.
Alice proves to be even more of an enigma when she shows up late one night at Alain's office and makes a pass at him. She cryptically mentions that Richard tried to kill her once and that she can't leave him because she wants to see him croak. The next day she shows up at the Getty house where she tells Benedicte of her failed seduction, and then asks for a place to lie down and take a nap. What follows is a bizarre turn of events that cannot all be rationally explained.
Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lemming (Strand Releasing)
If this were a Korean film, it might be described as a ghost story but because it comes from France where such supernatural tales are not a mainstay, it is more apt to be categorized as a psychological thriller. But calling the film a ghost story might actually put potential viewers in a more receptive mood for the strange twists and turns the story takes. The best way to enter this film is with no expectations, be open to the way it moves from light to dark, and from normal to the bizarre.
The film reunites Moll with scriptwriter Gilles Marchand from With a Friend Like Harry , and once again they display exceptional skill at unsettling an audience. They take something as mundane as a casual dinner and turn it into a savage assault on marriage. It also proves to be darkly comic. The environment may appear to be a normal suburban one, but with Moll as director, everything becomes potentially dark and dangerous. Even a simple drain inspection becomes something ominous. The filmmakers also give us characters that have a potential for deep down nastiness. Charlotte Rampling delivers a masterful performance as the razor-tongued Alice who cuts her hostess to the quick and doesn't spare anyone else a lacerating. She's mysterious and creepy, and keeps you guessing as to her true motives. There's also a photograph of her that plays prominently into the ending and it just gives you the willies.
Lemming (unrated and in French with English subtitles) is compellingly watchable yet it's not as neat and satisfying a thriller as With a Friend Like Harry . Lemming has a tacked on ending that has the same feel as the ending of David Lynch's Blue Velvet . It's a tonal shift that returns the film to a place of comfort but it's a comfort that has a superficial quality to it.
Companion viewing: With a Friend Like Harry, Blue Velvet,Georgy Girl (for an early Charlotte Rampling performacne)