Friday, October 17, 2008

De Vierde Man

I really like visual puns. Picture this - from early-ish in the film The Fourth Man - seen long ago in the 80's.

A man, who is so plagued by visions that he never quite knows what is truth, is on a train. Opposite him is a woman with a baby. She is cradling the child in one arm while peeling a piece of fruit. She is backlit by sunlight streaming through the carriage window - there are rays of light traced out in the slightly dusty air of the carriage. As the peel coming from the fruit grows in length it arcs up into a loop, forming a halo around the child's head.

Backlit, surrounded by rays of light, halo - surely you can see this. She looks at him as if to say - "you know who I am".

A wonderful piece of screenplay. It turns out that she is who she appears to be - the man is a catholic and is falling toward grave danger, Mary is pursuing him, trying to ward him away from a murderous witch.

The black widow witch has murdered her previous 3 husbands and is looking for the fourth - hence the title of the film. Beautiful in an androgynous way, the witch is toying between our hero (a shabby middle aged bisexual alcoholic writer) and a younger prettier himbo. The tricky thing is that the writer rather likes pretty boy too. It is the best love triangle imaginable.

The film is drenched with visual can't-quite-tell-truth-from-reality-smartypantsness. I absolutely loved it for this. Be warned, it is at times shockingly violent. There also is an unforgivable sequence where a great many of the visual tricks are recapitulated and explained - needlessly patronising - if you didn't get them then you won't be interested in them.

Recommended. (I think)

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