Two women passengers die in a car crash as a result of which the female driver has a leg amputated. The zoologist twin husbands of the dead women are fascinated by the processes of decay, start an affair with the amputee and liberate animals from a zoo. This provocative, funny and stylish film is also a tribute to Vermeer and an exploration of the trauma of loss, man’s relationship with animals and the attraction of lists. The wonderful cinematography is by Frenchman Sacha Vierny and the thrilling score is by Michael Nyman.
An avant-gardist who earned surprising access to the mainstream, Peter Greenaway is among the most ambitious and controversial filmmakers of his era. Trained as a painter and heavily influenced by theories of structural linguistics, ethnography, and philosophy, Greenaway’s films traversed often unprecedented ground, consistently exploring the boundaries of the medium by rejecting formal narrative structures in favor of awe-striking imagery, shifting meanings, and mercurial emotional tension; fascinated by formal symmetries and parallels, his material displayed an almost obsessive interest in list-making and cataloguing, earning equal notoriety for its provocative eroticism as well as its almost self-conscious pretentiousness. Born April 5, 1942, in Newport, Wales, Greenaway was raised primarily in nearby Chingford. After deciding at the age of 12 to become a painter, he entered the Walthamstow College of Art. By 1965, Greenaway had begun working as a film editor for the Central Office… read more
First Greenaway film I saw. When the credits rolled, I realized I was there to stay. Wonderful score by Nyman. The art direction, sets, costumes, effects, everything is breathtaking. Amazing cinematography by Vierny, who shows here he can do well more than Last Year at Marienbad. A delight for the senses. *****
Certainly not without flaws this is still an incredibly interesting film that draws on the same source material as Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers. Gorgeously shot and lit, with a score to match, Greenaway draws on his liking for the works of Joseph Vermeer but then ties this in with an obsessive focus on decay, death and decomposition, both visually and in his character’s motives.