_ State of mind
Writer/director Lodge Kerrigan tells Alan Morrison about the realistic portrayal of schizophrenia in Clean, Shaven.
When a cornered serial killer starts
talking about the voices in his head. the 3
media has a ﬁeld day fuelling the public's sensationalised connection between schizophrenia. madness and the murdering psychopath. ‘When I used the tabloid press in the ﬁlm,’ says Lodge Kerrigan of his stark and brilliantly effective debut feature Clean. Shave/r, ‘I tried to illustrate how a lot ofpeople will not only believe what they read. but will alsojump to conclusions about things they don‘t have that much information about. It's
a search of his estranged daughter; close
on his trail is a detective hounding him for a murder that he may or may not have committed. ‘The ﬁlm is really a ﬁctional interpretation ofthe illness.’
; explains its 30-year-old director. ‘l'm ; not schizophrenic. so it‘s almost
almost like at the Colosseum in Ancient ;
Rome, where it was “thumbs down. guilty, kill them".‘
Clean. Shat'en is at times very difﬁcult to watch because it presents schizophrenia and violent acts of self- tnutilation with unflinching. non- gratuitous honesty. The ﬁlm follows Peter. a clearly disturbed young man. as he moves across a bleak landscape in
impossible for me to know what it's like; it's really an approximation and.
because of the nature of this ' experience. something of a surreal
interpretation. although I think the style ; ofthe ﬁlm is one of realism.‘
It‘s this realism. built upon the emotional precision of Peter Greene's
; harrowing central performance and the unembellished, minimalistic touches
Clean. Shaven: ‘stark and brilliantly effective’ i that Kerrigan brings to every level — r narrative. location. dialogue — that has such a devastating impact on the viewer. Kerrigan came to ﬁlmmaking : after ﬁrst studying political philosophy . at the University of Columbia and now has parallel careers as cinematographer on low budget. NYC-based productions i and as director of commercials. music videos and television pieces. He has ; also worked on several documentaries, including a short spell with the great ' Frederick Wiseman. an experience that ; perhaps laid the foundations for the i dcglamorised. coolly observational f» approach of this feature. Two key techniques convey the
schizophrenic‘s almost constant state of anxiety and difﬁculty in communication: a carefully structured soundtrack ﬁlled with dismembered voices and unidentiﬁed noises. that alienates the viewer from the on-screen action. and the fragmented development of the narrative. ‘Auditory hallucinations are a primary symptom of schizophrenia.‘ Kerrigan says. ‘If you're speaking to someone in a room and there‘s an air-conditioner in the background. generally most people are able to ﬁlter out the air-conditioner and concentrate on the voice. But in a form of hallucination. the schizophrenic‘s ability to prioritise sounds could be obliterated or modiﬁed.
‘lf you woke up one morning and heard voices that weren‘t in direct correlation with your physical environment. I don‘t believe your immediate reaction would be that you
~ were going insane; you'd try to ﬁnd
somejustiﬁcation for it. For him. the justification is that there is a transmitter in his ﬁnger and a receiver in his head, so it‘s very logical for him to try and remove them. In the scene where he picks out his fingernail. l intercut with a series of’extreme close-ups on his face to show that he isn’t reacting to the pain as one would have expected - a symptom of schizophrenia called ‘blunting'. All of the self-inflicted violence in the ﬁlm is connected to his illness. The ultimate goal was to have the audience feel the anxiety that the character feels every day.‘
Clean. .S'lraven opens a! the Edinburgh Film/rouse on Wednesday 7 December.
:— Daily records
Deserved winner of the Best Director Award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Dear Diary is an autobiographical shaggy dog of a movie, so fresh, funny and ultimately disarming you wonder why no one’s
ever tried to do anything like it before.
Meet Italian writer/director and unlikely leading man flanni Moretti, however - here’s the man who loves
Viennese cakes so much he named his
own cinema and production company
Sachertorte - and your suspicions are .
confirmed. The reason why there has
never been a Dear Diary before is that
no one else has had the combination of wigginess, sheer chutzpah, love of the European art cinema and a uniquely undemonstrative filmmaking style, slinging together such an assortment of divergent elements and watching them gel into something really rather special.
‘I started to shoot Dear Diary before I realised it was the film I wanted to make,’ he recalls, going back to the beginning. ‘It was summer in home. I had another project already scripted and ready to go into production, but I
might be a short in it, or something. When I looked at the rushes, I suddenly knew this Vespa movie was what I should be doing. That lightness, that irresponsibility without any concern for the demands of a conventional screenplay. I knew I wanted to make a film in which I could
work with extreme narrative freedom, and this was clearly it.’ In fact, that was just the start. With a
. . h. beganmming myselmding around the ‘ couple of other Ideas In IS head,
city on my scooter, thinking that there '
neither of which would be strong enough to stand up as a movie in its
own right, the creative light bulb lit up '
pronto. ‘I wondered if I could make one film in three different parts,’ continues the former critic, cinema owner and distributor, who had been making his own idiosyncratic movies for a decade or so before hitting the international big time with this latest
Dear Diary: ‘unexpectedly charming’
offering. ‘And why bother to hide the
; lack of homogeneity in the piece? Why I not actually flaunt it?’
As if to underline the point, the lad himself is up on screen for most of the a film, guiding us amiany through its trio of ostensibly unrelated sections: a Vespa odyssey through Home that culminates in a moving meditation at the patch of waste ground where Pasolini was murdered; a rather daffy skip around Italy’s islands where all and sundry seem obsessed with TV soaps and/or their children’s
domination of the house telephone and, finally, an absorbing look at Moretti’s own medical problems, slyly satirising the medical profession as the men in the white coats struggle to find a diagnosis for the filmmaker’s mysterious, perhaps malign skin complaint.
If there’s a frustration in a movie like this for the critic, it’s in finding the words to convince the prospective moviegoer what an unexpectedly charming experience it is. But if a phrase like ‘one of the films of the year’ has any currency then it’s certainly here — where else would you find cultural reference points as far apart as Pasolini, Flashdance and Keith Jarrett, a veritable circle squared? And how rare too to find a film that isn’t interested in being the last word in brow-furrowing meditation but instead addresses the viewer as if you both were sitting outside a cafe over espresso and a cake or two.
‘My choices as a film director go together with my tastes and emotions as a spectator, and I was getting fed up with the kind of academic cinema now being made,’ affirms Moretti, the kind of interview subject who takes real care to give his best answer to every question. ‘These things are like nicely prepared school homework. In my own small way, I hope the success of this film will encourage others who’d like to try to pursue different cinematic paths. It’s crucial for filmmaking In general that directors keep taking risks.’ (Trevor Johnston) Dear Diary opens at the Cameo Edinburgh on Friday 9 Dec and at the Glasgow Film Theatre on Friday 30 Dec.
The List 2—15 December I994 23