Thursday, October 20, 2005

Thriller: A Cruel Picture [second viewing]

This revisit elicited a reaction that ranks as totally opposite from the first time I saw this. The first half (the "humiliation" half, as it were), which seemed compellingly vicious, now strikes me as repetitive, tedious provocation. Director Bo. A Vibenius has said that he set out to make a "commercial-as-hell crap film," but his rage at being stuck in this particular filmic ghetto manifests itself as over-explicitness (i.e. the hardcore sex inserts), which subverts any commercial concerns (this is far beyond exploitation). There's all that anger just sitting there, and the film doesn't know quite what to do with it until the "revenge" half takes over. As Vibenius vicariously vents his anger at the disappointment of his artistic life through the character of Madeleine, he calms down a bit and allows some poetic moments to sneak in through the back door of this grimefest. The slow-motion ballet fights, which irked me the first time around, now seem less like a way to drag out a scene and more a dreamy study of aggression in motion. Plus, the ending is still stunning, the randomly exploding car is still awesome, the color-coordinated eyepatches are still funny and Christina Lindberg is still totally fucking hot. It's not quite a success as an exploitation film, but maybe that's a good thing.

Grade: B- (up from C+)


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