Friday, November 16, 2012

The Reflecting Skin

"Sometimes terrible things happen quite naturally."

(1990)
Crystal Math's rating: **
Johnny Sweatpants' rating: ***



A trio of young boys slightly resembling the Three Stooges pull pranks on locals to pass the time in their rural Idaho town. The film's central character, Seth, helps out his family where he can and absorbs as much sci-fi/fantasy as was available in the 1950s. Seth becomes obsessed with a woman -- Dolphin Blue -- to whom he is instructed to apologize after pulling a prank on her; Ms. Blue tells him that she is extraordinarily old and he suspects that he is a vampire. When a young boy is found dead and police begin an investigation, family secrets and small-town drama unfold in front of Seth's eyes.

CM: At first the drama and the speculation is intriguing, but the film's plot is quick to fizzle out and although the wheat-filled countryside is visually stunning, and the stories each adult tells Seth about their past is captivating in illustrating their transition from innocent childhood into dark adult years, it just doesn't save Reflecting Skin from being dragging on until its only-slightly surprising ending, and even that dragged on for too long. I really wanted to like this movie but I just didn't see its appeal. Viggo's character was interesting but underdeveloped and compared to the speaking volume of the other characters, he was practically a mute. I wouldn't recommend this unless a Viggo fangirl/fanboy wanted to see every movie he ever made.

JSP: I will admit that it took me five attempts to make it to the end of this movie but I did enjoy it considerably. While certainly a slow builder with an arguably unsatisfying conclusion, I eventually immersed myself in the hopeless world in which it was set. Octopunk did an excellent job praising the dark tone and the breathtaking cinematography in his eloquent analysis, which I recommend you read. A steady sadness emanates throughout. I applaud the artistry of The Reflecting Skin but ultimately the focus on the death of innocence depressed, more than elevated me.

2 comments:

Catfreeek said...

I agree that the entire tone is bleak and also that this film is one that you really must emerge yourself in to get it. I really liked it, but I do love when a film takes me out of my comfortable universe and reminds me that things are very different in other places.

Octopunk said...

I'm so happy that you watched this even though it didn't wow you like it did me. But no, it's not elevating.

One thing I will note as you both mention the ending: I don't know that this observation would alleviate your feelings about it, but I like the ending precisely because it's such a foregone conclusion.