Bringing his own stage success to the screen, writer-star and iirst-time director Steven Berkoii pulls oii an astonishing coup: the worst British iilm I’ve seen this decade. In the theatre, Berkoii’s own maniiest energy and physical presence tends to distract attentions irom the thinness oi his material; yet in this spectacularly inept celluloid transcription, his inability to rethink the piece in terms oi the new medium diminishes the eiiect oi his own periormance as well as magniiying the blundering obviousness oi much oi the writing.
While Berkoti and his unlikely, inetiably grotesque leading lady Joan Collins parade themselves as both corrupt, lubricious stalwarts oi the Mayfair set and equally rapacious nouveaux riches East End migrants, the iilm piles caricature upon caricature to little cumulative etiect except a deepening sense oi tedium.
F:Fi()|Vﬂ F:Fil[)/\N( FEBRUARY4TH
. \V i a ‘ » ‘spectacularly inept’
Ii Berkoii thinks he’s being ‘daring’ by telling us these people are scumbags, he’s got it dead wrong: Decadence tells us little we didn’t know already. And in the shapeless structure, barely coherent editing, and inelegant mise-en-scene, his directorial contribution displays that combination oi ego and ineptitude most irequently seen in student shorts. Its nadir is the loathsome sight oi Michael Winner iulminating apparently ‘ironic’ racist claptrap, at which point your valiant reviewer tipped up his seat and leit. In almost ten years oi writing about movies, it’s
' my only walk-out. Make oi that what
you will. Decadence is one oi those cases where the critic can only oiier words oi warning. (Trevor Johnston) Decadence (18) (Stephen Berkoii, UK/Cer/lux, 1993) Joan Collins, Stephen Berkoii, Christopher Biggens. 108 mins. From Fri 4. Glasgow: MCM Film Centre. Edinburgh: Filmhouse.
the latest ‘teenage kid with a not-so appropriate iather-iigure’ picture oti the Hollywood blocks sees Jeff Bridges as Jack Kelson, iresh out oi prison with only a change oi clothes, encumbered by his iourteen-year-old son llick (Edward Furlong irom Terminator 2). When Jack makes a bee-line back to the inner-city grunge oi his native Seattle, llick reiuses to return to his uncle’s iarm, opting
' instead to stay with his iather.
together and separately, they attempt
to beat the odds mounting against
them on the streets and go straight
enough to realise Jack’s dream oi
emigrating to Alaska.
Every turn they take seems to stack
7 the odds higher. It it’s not the iault oi
5 others - Jack’s old partner in crime,
' Rainey (lion llarvey in as slimy a low-
liie role as you’re likely to see ior a
3 long time) or the teenage prostitute-
, downstairs whom llick beiriends (Tyla
f Kapisky with a suitable tangle oi
g innocence and knowing sexiness) -
; then it’s Jack who is unable to trust
3 those who love him, particularly his
I prison pen-pal Charlotte (lucinda
E llowever relentless the downward
; path may be, debut director Martin
a Bell lightens the tone with unexpected
g ilashes oi humour - a Michael
g Jackson lookalike teetering down a
. back alley in heels and mini-dress is
E particularly memorable. Ultimater
, this is a positive and rewarding iilm
i which stands out among its peers, it
American lleart: ‘positive and rewarding’
ior nothing else, because oi Bridges’s human periormance and Furlong’s near periect portrayal oi driiting early teenhood. (Thom Dibdin)
American lleart (15) (Martin Bell, US, 1993) Jeii Bridges, Edward Furlong, lucinda Jenney. 114 mins. From Fri 28 Jan: Edinburgh Filmhouse.
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The List 28 January—IO February 1994 25