30 May 2000 | Afracious
An intricate & textured study of decay & deterioration.
The film begins with the sound of a car crash. The next frame unfolds to show us a white car with a swan embedded in its windscreen, and a woman shouting out in agony. We can also see two women in the back of the car motionless. Who are then imposed on to a newspaper headline: SWAN CRASH TWO DIE, it says. The deceased women were married to twin brothers, zoologists Oliver and Oswald Deuce. After the accident they grieve at the bedside of the stricken survivor of the crash, a lady named Alba Bewick, who has had her leg amputated. At first they blame her for the accident, then later start to both sleep with her. Most of their time is spent photographing dead animals and plants. Some of these are shown decaying quickly, accompanied by good music from Michael Nyman. Also around the zoo is a prostitute named Venus De Milo, who the brothers both use. A strange figure named Van Hoyten. And also the film features the only feature film appearance of the English comedian Jim Davidson, who will be familiar to viewers in England. He plays Joshua Plate, an assistant at the zoo. Eventually Alba has her other leg amputated, and also has twin babies by the Deuce brothers. Yes, she claims they are by both of them. It then leads to a tragic conclusion. It is a fascinating film to watch. Beautiful to look at, as always with Greenaway's films. It offers the viewer many layers and textures to explore. Each scene is delicately structured. Something different. Watch it again and again.