1 June 2008 | rwint1611
An Audacious Period Artifact
THE PLOT: Bizarre adaption of John Barth's already bizarre novel detailing the story of a man (Keach) who goes into a catatonic state at a train station. He is sent to a strange mental hospital run by a weird man named Dr D (Jones). After he is considered to be 'cured' he takes a job as a college Professor and proceeds to have an affair with the wife of one of his colleagues.
THE NEGATIVE: It has been noted that author Barth disliked this film version of his novel and it is easy to see why. It gives only a basic outline of the story while leaving out all of the deeper meanings. It also tried to tie the story to all the chaos and rebellion of the 60's even though the book was written in 1955. The final result is a very confusing and off putting mess with nothing coming together at all. The characters all act very odd and with no understanding of their motivations it becomes impossible for the viewer to relate to them or anything else that goes on. Most viewers, especially those that are not familiar with the John Barth book, will easily become confused and turned off by this film after the first five or ten minutes if not sooner.
THE POSITIVE: The film-making style is refreshingly audacious in a way that is rarely seen anymore. Everything is just thrown out there no matter how outrageous with little or no regard to mainstream acceptance. The kinetic imagery and music has a certain hypnotic effect that keeps you connected to it even if you don't understand what is going on. The film culminates with a very intense, grizzly, and tasteless abortion scene that will not be soon forgotten by anyone who sees it. Jones gives one of the most bizarre and over-the-top performances that you will ever see anywhere. Anyone who is a fan of his or has an interest in acting MUST see him in this film.
THE LOWDOWN: The film is a misfired experiment that manages to be enough of a period artifact to make it an interesting curio. It definitely has the ability to stay with you for awhile after it is over.
THE RATING: 6 out of 10.