Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Living and The Dead [2006]

The Living and the Dead is an artsy and drama-driven tale of the death and the descension into madness using setting and tone from shades of Kubrick's The Shining and Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream, that aims not to please but shake convention and disrupt the norm.

The Brocklebanks are a once well-off family of three, Donald, and ex-Lord and former business-mogul now homeridden to care for his only child James, a schitzophrenic man-kid, and his wife Nancy, now a terminally ill dependant. To avoid the sale of their countryside estate, Donald is forced to abandon his family and home, leaving the care duties to a nurse on daily house call. James sees this as his opportunity to "make daddy proud" by taking responsiblity and care for his mother, and subsequently himself. After James locks the nurse out of the house, places the phone off the hook, and attempts to care for 2 persons too many...the downward spiral ensues - and this is where director Simon Rumley really bleeds his genius.

The mental breakdown is the make or break moment for these psychological films, and Rumley uses all the tricks in his bag. Rumley utilizes camera techniques (speed framing and motion shooting) and setting either cold and desolute or bare and cramped to throw the viewer of kilter, incorporate the brilliant acting of Leo Bill as James, and the final product is quite effective - even for someone quite desensitized. The one downside is the somewhat anti-climactic ending which is far from terrorizing or horrific, but once again effective, if not predictable, I guess

In summary, The Living and the Dead is a handicap kid at an amusement park. Most will casually peek, some will stare, and few will want to take him home and feed him jello...where you fall will determine the likelyhood of you enjoying this movie.


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