Dir: Amos Kollek. Fr-US. 2001. 90mins.
Amos Kollek is one of the great wonders of the film festival world. Each new film seems virtually guaranteed of a slot on the A-list (the last two, Queenie In Love and Fast Food, Fast Women, both premiered in Cannes), yet none has broken though to outstanding success or established his name outside this rarefied circuit. Regarded by critics in Berlin as the director's weakest offering in some time, Bridget also looks headed nowhere - apart, possibly from France, Kollek's established power base - at the box-office.
The story is, like much of Kollek's recent work, centred on a flaky woman, Bridget (Anna Thomson), who has lost custody of her small son after her husband was shot dead by gangsters. Following the child to New York, she sinks into alcoholism and despair and her life becomes a series of bizarre, often unpleasant encounters.
A masked orgy leads to a bizarre contest which leaves a girl dead; fired from work, Bridget gets a dead-end job as a supermarket cashier; a pick-up in a bar puts her in touch with a sinister older man (who, unknown to her, was the sadistic host at the orgy); and she is asked by a rich writer, to marry and look after his sweet, simple-minded son (David Wike), in return for which she will net $1 million at the end of five years.
And that's just for starters: in between, our heroine squeezes in the time to visit an ineffectual shrink, is propositioned by a lesbian schoolteacher (Julie Hagerty), gets a night job as a peepshow dancer and becomes involved with some unsavoury Vietnam vets. There is, one might think, enough plot material here for half-a-dozen features, but Bridget, like its protagonist, lurches along crazily from one new location and improbable character to the next with a minimal sense of structure or purpose.
The story escalates into outright farce when, trying to earn enough money to win back her son, Bridget accepts an assignment as a drugs courier to Lebanon. Here, she slips across the border to Israel where a sage old Orthodox Jew at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall delivers a borderline-absurd homily to her about good and evil in human nature. Both elements are in Bridget (signified, perhaps, by the way she keeps switching her hair between blonde and brunette) but, he reveals with a twinkle, her life is about to change and good will triumph.
It's uncertain how this philosophical idea, such as it is, is illustrated by the climax. In a crime-cliche plot twist, the original villain - symbolically named Black - resurfaces, and Bridget commits a violent act in which good hardly seems to prevail.
Formally, the film is thoroughly undistinguished, with a ragged shooting style which ought to have been a showcase for the script and performances. But even the title character doesn't come alive, and Thompson's brittle beauty and undoubted screen presence are unable to compensate for a character who seems, throughout, self-absorbed and unlikeable.
Prod co: FRP
Fr dist: Flach Pyramide
Int'l sales: Flach Pyramide International
Prod: Frederic Robbes
Cinematography: Ed Talavera
Prod des: Jon Nissenbaum
Ed: Jeffrey Marc Harkavy, Ron Len
Music: Joe Delia
Main cast: Anna Thomson, Lance Reddick, David Wike, Arthur Storch, Mark Margolis, Julie Hagerty