29 November 2003 | rsoonsa
IT IS ABOUT MORE THAN THE PLOT.
Style and substance, components that are included to some degree within films of either aesthetic or artistic sensibility, are seldom present to the same extent, and that is the case in this U.S./Australian production, with style happily the most pronounced. Director/cinematographer Phedon Papamichael, a master craftsman of cinematic style thanks to his canny use of light, shadow and colour in relation to his cast, maintains visual emotion throughout this work even when the substance, the story itself, wallows a bit. The sound designer, Leonard Marcel, adds to the successful development of the piece, and although there is perhaps some mixing misfortune, scoring and arranging by Tom Hiel, use of a portion of Mozart's Requiem, K. 626, and songs composed and sung by the male lead, Brent Fraser, make for a convincing counterpart to Papamichael's visual artistry. Footage is in the artist's loft district of downtown Los Angeles, the scenario telling of a reporter (Finola Hughes) for a weekly publication of the arts who has discovered a possible major story: an artist (Fraser) who had murdered his model seven years past, now freshly released from his asylum internment, is creating paintings for a forthcoming gallery exhibition, for which the gallery owner (Glenn Shadix), of a practical leaning, finds the resultant gossip of probable fiscal value. After tracing down the reclusive painter, Julian Jons, the journalist, Jennifer Cole, becomes physically attracted to him, becoming his lover, but when a moneyed patron commissions Jons to paint a friend who remarkably resembles his slain model, the painter suffers from flashbacks that suggest there may soon be another victim. The acting is of a quality indicating preparation, with both Hughes and Fraser neatly flanking most cliches in their roles, while good turns are on display from the always competent Shadix, Moon Zappa as Jennifer's roommate, and by Patrick Bauchet in a too brief appearance as Jennifer's editor. Direction by Papamichael is creative, with the players permitted to complete their characterizations in this sadly undervalued film that includes a scene of eroticism that is delightfully unique in its crowded canon.