Stop-motion Quay Bros. hair-braid title card, then opening shot of a toilet with blood in it, and already I’m conflicted. There’s more bleeding and vomiting and bathrooms than seems strictly necessary (M. D’Angelo: “in many ways this is a film about the effect of passion on the gastrointestinal tract, which to my knowledge is a subject previously unexplored”), and I’m always a fan of injecting stop-motion and monsters into a movie, but somehow it didn’t work here. But the vast bulk of the runtime is a fucking lovely story about two girls, the actresses giving perfect performances, and I want to buy the movie’s poster and stare at it forever. And I don’t usually wish for sequels, but I’d like to see this movie’s Before Sunset. Good opening night pick for LNKarno.
Jack and Diane meet, make out, seem really good for each other, but Diane is going off to London in a week, so neither knows how to handle this. Each girl is kinda a mess in her own way… Jack (Riley Keough, the boss in American Honey, also this year’s The Discovery and Logan Lucky and It Comes at Night… and Elvis’s granddaughter) is mourning her late brother, gets hit by a cab and spends most of the movie with a scraped-up face, is mean to almost everybody. I don’t know what’s going with Diane (Juno Temple of Killer Joe, Kaboom) at the beginning, with no phone or ID, throwing up and bleeding. They do seem more collected when together, though Diane manages to transfer her nosebleed to Jack.
Diane’s poor Aunt Linda (Cara Seymour of The Knick, An Education, Gangs of New York) gets daily abuse. Kylie Minogue (same year as Holy Motors) plays a Jack ex-lover. Amazing character detail: Jack, wearing a Ministry t-shirt, says sushi is “good with ketchup.” Good texture to the movie thanks to the Múm score, the soundtrack (first time I’ve heard Shellac in a movie?), bursts of Quay visuals, richly colored cinematography. First I’ve seen by either Gray or his collaborator So Yong Kim.
Another thing I cherished: Has there ever been a movie that introduced an identical twin and then deliberately made so little of it? The scene in which Karen calls Jack pretending to be Diane, while terrific for its own sake, seems to exist primarily to raise the possibility that it’s actually Diane in the porn video, using her sister’s name in an unfamiliar situation. Karen is otherwise never seen; one might fairly conclude that she’s never seen at all. Indeed, if not for the fact that Diane’s aunt mentions her, it would be easy to conclude that Karen doesn’t really exist, so blatantly symbolic is her function. (See also: Jack’s dead brother, Jack’s facial bruise.) Like the monster metaphor, this would threaten to capsize the movie were it not so unemphatic; unlike the monster metaphor, its import is so glancing (there’s no overt suggestion that Jack suspects anything, and the subject never comes up again) that it doesn’t seem superfluous.