Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"Reflecting Skin" written and directed by Philip Ridley

I have wanted to see Philip Ridley's Reflecting Skin for as long as I can remember. I first saw the cover on someones Amazon.com list under the tag"Bizzaro Films" Definitely bizarre but it's also emotionally draining if you can get past some bad acting.
Set in 1950's rural Idaho A boy named Seth Dove becomes obsessed with Vampires and fixates his obsession on the widow Dolphin Blue. His father commits suicide after he becomes a prime suspect in the death of one of Seth's friends, based solely on the fact that he was caught kissing a young man years before. The sheriff attributes his reasoning to "Kissing leads to Killing". Seth believes his friend was killed by the vampire after he mistakes a baby Jesus replica in an old church for his dead friend returning as an angel stuck in our world because he was murdered.
Seth soon fears that his brother, fresh from WWII and played powerfully by
Viggo Mortensen, is in danger after he starts to have an affair with Dolphin. His world becomes even smaller when another friend turns up dead.
The performances in the movie are hit or miss due in part to the main child actor. It always looks like he is two seconds from bursting into laughter, especially if it's a dramatic scene. Viggo gives a fantastic performance with a lot of range in this film, especially with anger. He'll often times go from zero to full on rage in a single scene.
The story has all the musings of a Flannery O'Connor book and reminds me of another great auteur's work. A sheriff who has lost his hand, an eye, and part of his ear to animals, set pieces decorated in dead sea animals and small town politics all echo elements of Lynch's work in Twin Peaks.
The music is an exceptional mix of droning, ethereal, orchestra and keyboard work. Combined with striking and unconventional cinematography of the barren, rural, Idaho landscape, makes for a truly unsettling and eerie experience. I highly recommend this film. If you can get past the child actors performance this film will reward you.

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