Because the movie itself fortunately tells you, The Seven Faces of Jane is an beautiful corpse omnibus film — that’s, following the Surrealists’ unique parlor sport, a characteristic comprised of eight segments written and directed by eight filmmakers, none of whom knew what the others have been doing. The gamers got a premise — a tense single mother (Gillian Jacobs) drops her daughter off at summer time camp and, together with her Mother id left behind, drifts house on the Southern California highways. What would you do, with the radiant Jacobs, a sure funds, and one-eighth of a 90-minute characteristic?
This type of factor isn’t totally unprecedented, though producer Roman Coppola’s experiment (roping in, promisingly, his niece Gia and a Cassavetes scion) may be the primary to play the sport squarely, with eight separate, sequestered author/administrators. The underloved 1994 movie Sleep With Me was written in six segments by six writers, although we don’t know in the event that they cross-pollinated; a 2012 movie, The Beautiful Corpse Venture, had the five-member comedy troupe Olde English write the script in remoted chunks, with a little bit peeking and a devolution right into a documentary about its personal collapse into squabbling. Needing to hatch a characteristic narrative on this means is, of course, counter-intuitive, and that’s why it’s a surrealistically seductive thought within the summary, to not point out John Cage-ian, not dictating artwork however encouraging randomness and cross-purposes, to not merely affect the narrative however outline it.
In the end, all of this corpse discuss — the thought, the experiment, the anarchic game-playing context — is much extra fascinating than the movie that outcomes from it, which performs like a collection of inconclusive one-off skits.
Randomness we get in Seven Faces, besides, if you happen to’re going to be picayune about it, Coppola’s lark isn’t actually an beautiful corpse, which in its unique Nineteen Twenties formulation has the person contributions (strains of poetry, items of a drawing, and so on.) accumulate in sequence, so the tip is ridiculously removed from the start in a game-of-telephone form of means. The brand new movie as an alternative posits seven alternate situations for Jacobs’s wandering magnificence (the eighth reveals the “real” drop-off and pick-up scenes), giving the movie a frivolous, stop-and-start-again rhythm. In the end, all of this corpse discuss — the thought, the experiment, the anarchic game-playing context — is much extra fascinating than the movie that outcomes from it, which performs like a collection of inconclusive one-off skits.
Jacobs’s heroine has solely her id points to fret about, so the stakes are low as she confronts doppelgangers, tries to assist an irate Latina woman (Daniela Hernandez) on her approach to her quinceañperiod, picks up a worrisomely irresponsible hitchhiker (Emanuela Postacchini), dances together with her girlfriend’s ghost (Sybil Azur) on the night time street, wrestles with the fallout of two separate previous boyfriends, will get lured right into a Lynch-like performing audition in a mortuary, and so forth. Regardless of the Three Faces of Eve–suggestive title, Jane herself doesn’t change from sequence to sequence; what’s most placing is the essential paucity of concepts the filmmakers mustered, given the try-anything alternative earlier than them. To be truthful, most are first-timers, together with Jacobs, her Neighborhood co-star Jeong, and an array of music-video vets.
Some slices have the vitality and polish of experience and others really feel clumsy and tepid, so in mixture, it’s one thing of a wash, as a result of nearly no dangers are taken. What would you do? Frankly, beautiful corpse texts and narratives are sometimes destined to be unsatisfying — however the collision of sensibilities and imaginative flights will be enjoyable, like a lab experiment that explodes and melts the beaker and produces nothing. However to get the fireworks, you wanted unique concepts to start out with. ❖
Michael Atkinson has been writing for the Village Voice since 1994. His newest guide is the brand new version of his BFI tract on David Lynch’s Blue Velvet.
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