thatcow

Dr Caligari's Cabinet or The Many Faces of Eve

During the 1950s and 1960s, there were many directors exploring the visual representation of pyschology and the human brain. One that comes to mind is the Manchurian Candidate. Identity is a more modern view of this same vein.

The movie rests on an important plot twist. Do not read further if you are still interested in seeing this movie.

I've been watching a lot of documentaries recently and that has made me increasingly aware of plot devices. Documentaries do not escape plot devices, but often they are revealed through editing or after the project is over, not during the filming. Fictional stories always begin with some sort of device. In this movie, it is a great rain storm and series of events that bring our characters together. It is even easy to sense that the whole thing is on purpose (instead of just unbelievable plot twists). Indeed it is on purpose. The main characters in this story only exist in the mind of a deranged killer. It is his psychologist and treatments that bring all of these characters to a motel. Each character represents one aspect of the killers fractured personality. The psychologist is trying to eliminate all but one of the personalities. And when the personality is eliminated, a character is killed in our main story. The twist is that the characters at the motel don't know they are just personalities of one person until many of them are already dead.

There are some decent performances in this movie. Each character or personality should not really have much to do with the other personalities and the actors successfully portray this discombobulation. John Cusack plays the lead character and like many of his other acting roles, he is the most curious of the characters and his curiosity somehow transfers into natural leadership. I'm not sure how this is supposed to work as the naturally curious people I've met aren't always beating down their supposed followers.

I don't know when the first scary movie was made that featured rain. I think the first I saw was the original Psycho when I watched it with my brother in 1981. There is a lot of rain in this movie. Forty plus years past Psycho and the rain machines have become so much more rain like. I guess they had to use them. There are some interesting choices made in the editing of this movie that include miniature flashbacks to cover what happened 10 minutes before the current scene in a parallel time line. I appreciate the choice to limit most of the characters' backstories to keep the action from being just the result of further expository devices.

There are some interesting parallels for some of the actors in this movie. Our killer is played by an actor that shows up in the third season of Alias also playing a slightly wounded and psychologically damaged person. He uses the same rapid eye shifting in both places. Our transported convict is played by the crazy disruptor in Contact. He also uses some of the same acting tricks. Another character seems hyper sensitive to the environment and befriends the mute boy. She plays the tarot card reader that babysits her silent mother in HBO's Carnivale.

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Review: Too clever for its own good star3/10 andrew

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