Clean, Shaven (1993) – Lodge Kerrigan (dir)

This was a random pick while I was shelving movies...looked interesting, so I took it home. It has actually taken me a while to crack the box on it though, it looked really heavy and I needed to build myself up to it. Anyway, it was a little heavy, but mostly pretty dull, unfortunately.

The film follows a schizophrenic man who is in search of his estranged daughter and murdering other little girls along the way. There is an additional sub-plot of an almost equally tortured detective hunting him down. A number of comments on IMDB say that the film is a realistic and “sympathetic” portrayal of schizophrenia, but I am not so sure. Schizophrenia, from my understanding, is a pretty terrifying and alienating illness. Though Clean, Shaven does capture these elements, the viewer still ends up feeling more scared of the character than scared for him. Not all schizophrenics, not even the majority of them, are kid killers. Though there is a glimmer of kindness behind the crazy shown through his devotion to his daughter, we’re still not sure if the devotion is one that stems from love and loss or from a desire to chop her up into little kid-bits.

Though there are some incredible and haunting scenic shots in the film, a lot of it had a very “student-film” vibe to it (or, even worse, a “Canadian film” vibe—though it was American). Really stilted acting from most of the supporting cast. There were also plenty of “thriller” genre tropes (creepy kids, abandoned warehouses, tortured detectives) and I don’t think there was a single scene free of “spooky” ambient soundtrack, which gets pretty fucking tiring after a while. On the plus side, both Peter Greene (as the schizo) and Jennifer Macdonald (as the daughter) are fantastic in their roles. The cinematography is also pretty spectacular. Anyway, worth a watch if Confessions of a Shopaholic is rented out or something.


the coelacanth said...

i've been on the fence with this one for a long time - it looks good, and sounds good (as criterion seems to have a knack for making their releases do so) but i've heard very mixed reviews in the form of customer feedback. i think your writeup seals the deal - i may watch it eventually, but now i'm in no hurry to do so. thanks for the heads up.

La Sporgenza said...

Graham... while you may be our resident expert on mental illness, I'm pretty sure that most schizo's are faking it and are indeed child killers waiting for an opportunity.

I disagree.

Really? Who asked you?

You did.

No I didn't.

I'm pretty sure you did......