Sunday, July 11, 2010
I'd been searching for this gem for nearly 15 years, until I found it. When I did, it was as good as I imagined! The film follows the adolescent obsession of a 15 year old (John Moulder Brown) seedy (Newford) Bath House attendent. He falls under the romantic spell of a red haired tease (brilliantly played by Jane Asher), that toys with his emotions to the brink of taking him over the mental "deep end". Director Jerzy Skolimowski's film is so unique that it deals with the mind set of a sexually inexperienced youth in a way that is comedic, sensitive, and yet totally insane. Parts of the character reminded me of a darker Max Fletcher (the child character in "Rushmore") and a less calculating Tom Ripley (see "The Talented Mr. Ripley"), but totally immerssed in a Mod London invironment that is saturated in sex and seediness. What strikes me as interesting, is that you can never tell if London was meant to be represented in such a sexual red light, or if this is all just how the protaganist views London with sexually curious eyes of puberty? My one criticism towards John Moulder Brown is his English accent tends to sound more proper rather than lower class Cockney, which would have suited the story's angle. Jane Asher's performance however is truly amazing! Her use of the dialog, is completely naturalistic in approach. I always feel as an eavesdropper to someone's private conversation. Check out the scene in which her and John Moulder Brown are trying to retrieve a diamond from a pile of snow, and sprinkled in the dialog are comments of her being hungry (it would seem strange to see those lines written in the script, which leaves me to think it may be improvised?). And when she tells off the Gym Teacher (one of her lovers) and then continues to work on finding her diamond. Totally improvised and naturalistic!!! As a person like myself who studies acting, I was quite impressed by her acting, and am saddened that she has not appeared in more films (she seems to be mostly known for being the ex-girlfriend of Paul McCartney). The music soundtrack to the film is of great interest as well. It contains the song "But I Might Die Tonight" by Cat Stevens as the title track, and different variations of that theme supplied by either Cat Stevens or (Kraut rock group) Can. It also contains one of Can's most amazing tracks "Mother's Sky" in a great scene where the boy stalks his obsession to a London Club, then to a seedy Nude Girl joint which contains a cardboard cut out of her, then to an out-of-commision prostitute, and then finally to the London Underground where he confronts Jane Asher. All done with the surreal mind, of what only a 15 year old could conjure up. The film contains many surreal moments, in which the boy sinks to the bottom of a pool and eyes a naked woman swimming underneath him. Or when the boy jumps off a diving board and lands on top of the cardboard cut out in a pool. He again sinks to the bottom holding the cut out as if it was her. This film captures the complete frustration of that age, and the yearning to be a part of the sexually grown up world that is just out of reach, but keeps getting dipped towards your hands by a taller, more mature (?) tease. Unfortunately, teasing an imature boy can also have very horrible consequences.