Aggressively non-linear and heavy on the visual flair, Mike Figgis' allegorical voyage through the mind of a filmmaker alternates between the tawdry, fake sophistication of fancy perfume commercials and an unholy regurgitation of the worst excesses of
European art cinema. Fantasy sequences, dreams, memories and most egregiously an all-too-literal rendering of the Adam and Eve allegory: Sound pretentious? It is. While traveling from England to Tunisia, disaffected director Nic (Julian Sands), a glum Englishman with a rather
cold-looking wife and child, meditates upon his past. Nic is clearly Figgis' alter ego, right down to his profession and early childhood in Kenya(in one sequence Nic is a musician, another of Figgis' pastimes). Nic is haunted by various formative sexual episodes, including the sight of a dirty old
man (Jock Gibson Cowl) with a young African girl (Nina McKay), and the experience of fooling around with his first girlfriend (Kelly MacDonald). A recurring theme is the fallout from infidelity, especially when Nic's affair with an assistant (Saffron Burrows) leads to more than a few broken
hearts. Figgis' mute, emotionless characters observe themselves from the outside: In one scene, Sands quite literally sees another Sands. And how to read a statement like, "The crucial thing in cinema (or life for that matter) is understatement," from a filmmaker who uses images of garish neon
crucifixes and flash bulb-popping paparazzi to jolt his Adam and Eve into the consciousness that they're about to get booted from Eden. Figgis says he has labored on this project for years, but it feels less like a heartfelt statement than an opportunistic chance to display filmmaking flash.
Frankly, Figgis lacks the Bunuelian chops or sense of humor necessary to pull off this kind of self-reflexive filmmaking.
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- Released: 1999
- Rating: R
- Review: Aggressively non-linear and heavy on the visual flair, Mike Figgis' allegorical voyage through the mind of a filmmaker alternates between the tawdry, fake sophistication of fancy perfume commercials and an unholy regurgitation of the worst excesses of Eur… (more)