Talking Pictures

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Rage, Uk / USA 2009.

Posted by keith1942 on April 17, 2014

Rage 1

This is an innovative and experimental film by Sally Potter. It struck me as the most unconventional of her films since Thriller (1979), screened at the beginning of the retrospective at the Bradford International Film Festival.

A young male student, Michelangelo, conducts a series of interviews with people involved in a New York Fashion Show. He uses a digital camera and films them against a backdrop of bold changing colours. We never see the young student, we just hear the comments that the interviewees make to him and the responses to his occasional questions. We are made aware, partly by explanations from the interviewees and partly by off-screen sounds, of developments in the venue and outside.

The Fashion Show does not run according to plan. A series of deaths disrupt proceedings. They also involve a police investigation and feed into demonstrations outside the venue. As the plot develops it becomes clear that some machinations are going on. What at first seems to be an ironic take on a fashion documentary gradually assumes the guise of full-blown melodrama. The film reminded me of Mike Figgis’s Timecode (2000) in its combination of the unconventional and the melodramatic. However, this film uses a rather different set of techniques.

What strikes one most of all is the skill of the acting ensemble: though they are not really an ensemble, never appearing onscreen together. They combine relatively naturalistic characterisations with a gradual racheting up of emotion as the complications in the plotline develop.

The fairly basic camerawork and sound is extremely effective. The more so as the audience start to realise that the story is going in completely unexpected directions.

The Museum also has an exhibition of Potter portraits – shot on her digital phone – of the cat in character.

 

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