directed by matthew holness
The FYZZ Facility/british film institute
About as bleak and humorless a film as you’d prefer to imagine, this trudge through the disordered mind of a miserable and tormented middle-aged Britisher will definitely affect you. I’m not much of an abstract thinker and I don’t do too well with symbolism unless it’s really obvious, but even if you’re similarly ill-inclined, that shouldn’t get in the way of your following what this picture is on about. Now, I occasionally bemoan productions in these pages for not being “scary,” which of course does a disservice to a great many movies made in differing horror styles, being far too reductive a criterion. This is a good old-fashioned horror, in that what’s so bothersome about it all comes from within – and I don’t mean viscera. It’s all inside this guy’s head, as it will be in yours. The flicks from the UK I’ve seen all seemingly have that heavily psychological bent, and it works just about every time.
why did i watch this movie?
It, uh, sounded good: “a disgraced children’s puppeteer is forced to confront the secrets,” etc. I like the tendencies in British films of this ilk, where it’s always gloomy.
should you watch this movie?
If you can relate to the journey to the end of the night, surely.
highlight and low point
As this film has minimal personnel, the acting had better be good, and it is. Sean Harris is frankly magnificent as Philip, his mental anguish playing itself out not only on his wretched visage but in his increasingly constrained carriage and the abnormal movements of his limbs. The skillful deployment of the film’s major prop, which is displayed on the poster, is also a major asset. At times I found some of the circular action a bit nettlesome, if cavil I must. Oh, and the sound design is excellent.