Saturday, August 02, 2008

Grace Bothers

Savage Grace, Electric Cinema, Birmingham, Saturday July 26 2008, 4.30pm.


This is your intrepid inquisitor's first visit to the Electric Cinema since it was re-opened to much blogging hullabuloo a few years back. It's now touted as the oldest operating cinema in the UK, and it is a grand building, although your long-in-the-tooth loafer remembers it rather differently in its' Tivoli guise in the 80s, when it was considered something of a sleazepit where we made furtive forays to see B-movies like James B Harris' Cop and Craig R Baxley's criminally-under-rated Action Jackson. Visiting the cinema now feels a much more welcoming, middle-brow experience, with plush sofas; pretty, friendly box-office staff and a silver spoon to go with your white chocolate and raspberry ice-cream.

Tom Kalin's Savage Grace is the cinematic fare this afternoon, a film that is apparently attempting to re-construct the events leading up to the savage murder of a socialite by her troubled young son in 1972 London. The film is pretty to look at and mostly watchable, contains some strong performances (notably Moore as the doomed diva) but has too many serious flaws to be considered a success. Any film of such relatively short length is going to suffer from the episodic structure imposed on it here, leaving the viewer to struggle to get their teeth into the filletted fare on offer, and as a psychological study it's a non-starter as we're left none the wiser at the end of the film why the son takes the knife to his mother then calmly orders a Chinese.

Wikipedia's references to the real-life case would suggest that the film has played fast-and-loose with many of the facts of the case, something that would have made more sense if it had made the story more interesting not less. As it is, Kalin has made a film that brings to mind past movies like Mommie Dearest; Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?; The Sheltering Sky and Ma Mere, but only serves to highlight their relative superiority to the shallow showboating on offer here. Although any film that reacquaints us with elfin curveball Elena Anaya from Sex and Lucia ain't all bad so gracias for that.

Related link: Moore happy to embarrass kids.

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