2 January 2010 | lost-in-limbo
"You're going to "Ireland" to dry out?"
Beautiful looking and sedately handled, but immensely muddled independent art house horror feature by writer / director Michael Almereyda. Kind of similar in style to his film "Najda" four years earlier, which I don't think so highly of (other than the excellent soundtrack that accompanied it).
Nora and Jim (who are alcoholics) along with their son leave America and head to Ireland to visit Nora's grandmother. Despite the advice of their doctor not to go, as Nora one night with Jim got on the drink and she ended up falling down some stairs leaving her with a minor concussion. When getting there, she meets her uncle where he takes her down the basement to show her a decomposed body which he believes to a centuries old druid witch. Could this be the connections to the headaches and visions plaguing Nora's mind, as she'll find out when the witch is revived.
"Trance" is a touch better, but still engulfed by similar problems and nonetheless keeps the same positives. Again this atypically brooding fable is not for everyone, but it managed to hold my attention and I found the direction less concerned with its distracting artsy mechanics (than say in "Nadja")
although they're still evident. There are some delirious images, consisting of jaded visions rocking the main protagonist's mind. These stylised passages hold a certain arresting, if haunting charge. However this is when it's not in its nauseating head spin of mangled ideas. While the plot has a slight structure and little narrative drive, it's stretched out by its unfocused fabricated episodic developments with its dry, upfront and moody trimmings. Every one of these characters / including the witch / monster of the piece are damaged, but still humane vessels in the search of something to make them complete. Secrets are buried, to only be awoken.
It's messy and meanders, but strangely alluring like caught in a drunken, abstract state. I put it down to the performances. A breathtaking Alison Elliot (in dual roles) and narky Jared Harris acquit themselves to their lead roles. Lois Smith holds strong. Christopher Walken looking rather weary goes about things in a sober, but underlining twisted manner. Also Jason Millar's inclusion is merely a throwaway cameo with an amusing line. Almereyda's slickly calculative direction is switched on, making good use of the lush backdrop consisting of a stunning beach line and the Gothic interiors of mansion that the enclosed action mostly takes place in. Intimate photography is sharply engineered and well-intended. The brilliant soundtrack is notable with it tunes (that are perfect choices), and the music score is clinically alienating but whimsical in flight.