Saturday, March 24, 2007

Boston Underground Film Festival Friday Night: The 4th Life

The MBTA somehow knows when I'm trying to get someplace by a specific time, and responds by slowing their bus service down to a crawl. I honestly thought that two and a half hours would be enough time to run an errand between getting out of work at 5pm and the start of Dante's Inferno at 7:30pm. Apparently, not the case.

So, just the one film last night instead of two. I'll be trying to make up for it today with a program of shorts, When is Tomorrow, Urban Explorers, The Hamster Cage, and Viva. Tight fit between Urban Explorers and The Hamster Cage, especially since the short before the latter is only two minutes long and they're at different theaters, but I've handled tighter at other festivals

The 4th Life

* * * (out of four)
Seen 23 March 2007 at the Brattle Theatre (Boston Underground Film Festival IX)

The funny thing about The 4th Life is that for a film that is having its North American premiere at an "Underground Film Festival", there's arguably a pretty conventional film inside it, yearning to break free. Whether by temperment or budget, director Fran├žois Miron makes something that feels bizarre and unreal, but that's what works for him.

Right now, Marie March (Janet Lane) is married to an antique dealer about to go under, and although she doesn't love him nearly as much as he loves her, she's well aware things could be worse. Her husband has heard of a collection for sale in far-off Darckeville, so she hops a freight train (passenger trains and buses to that area were just discontinued) and makes her way out. Meanwhile, Caz (Andrea Sheldon) is breaking out of an asylum for the criminally insane along with her brain-damaged brother George (Tod Fennell). Caz and Marie were lovers in the past, and having one's crazy, homicidal lover on the loose is never a good thing.

The plot is not quite conventional, but unlike a lot of filmmakers who work beyond the fringes of mainstream film, Fran├žois Miron does concentrate on his story. He uses flashbacks well, illustrating the history Marie and Caz share so that we're clear where everybody whenever that information is going to be useful. Nothing ever seems to happen without a good reason, and the plentiful strange events seldom seem to simply be the result of a whim. The climactic scenes are fairly tight and suspenseful, so often a weakness among arty filmmakers.

Full review at HBS.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not to change the subject, but does anyone know of the new movie coming out talking about various geniuses?

Here's a review:

http://www.purplerootdesigns.com/review.html