Dir: Tony Scott. US. 2005.127mins.
There's something to be said for cinema that avoidsthe comfort margins of the mainstream, and Tony Scott's effusive, edge-skating
Far more pluckythan good, the film is based on a hallucinatory script by Donnie Darko'sRichard Kelly that uses its subject chiefly as an intriguing entry point forthe flashback-laden, sprawling examination of an armoured-carheist gone terribly wrong.
Along the way themovie dips into celebrity culture, reality television, multiculturalism, race and class strictures and, of course, good old-fashionedviolence. The result is a sort of punk rock fever dream, a polarising,never-boring misfire that offers up a few moments of adrenalisedsugar rush but ends in such a bafflingly abstruse and laughable manner that youfeel less appreciative of its originality and more scammed by its slapdash,snake-oil inventiveness.
Theatrical boxoffice prospects for the youth-skewing film should fall somewhere in the $40mto $80m range in the US, where it opens this weekend along with other selectterritories including the UK. Older audiences will find its coarse punctuationsand ejaculatory excesses a major turn-off, while thoseseeking a quick action fix will find that the movie's two-hour-plus runtimeblunts most escapist rewards.
Though itsreception will be read in some quarters as a test of star KeiraKnightley's post-PiratesOf The Caribbean commercial appeal, the film - while built around her - isin reality much more of a director's exercise. To this end, its ancillaryprospects should be strong, with sustained video and pay cable appeal.
The film centres around Domino (Knightley), the rebellious daughter of matinee idol Harveyand socialite Sophie Wynn (Jacqueline Bisset). Awashout both at school and in runway modeling, Domino channels her anger intobounty hunting when she stumbles across a fake seminar run by bail bondsmanClaremont Williams (Delroy Lindo)and reprobates Ed Mosbey (Mickey Rourke)and Choco (Edgar Ramirez).
Domino quicklytalks her way into a job with the latter two, and they form a surrogate familyof sorts, with the taciturn Choco harboring an onlybarely concealed crush on Domino. Ed is the mentor to his two young charges,and together they carry out
The bulk of themovie centres around aconvoluted armoured-car heist that involves theMafia, several slacker college students,
Pitched on areality television show by bewigged, off-centre producer Mark Heiss (Christopher Walken), Ed,Domino and Choco find themselves sharing atricked-out Winnebago with their celeb hosts as aseries of misunderstandings and double- and triple-crosses play out withregards to the stolen money.
Given all theoutlandish characters and a colorful, careening script by a young auteur with ahealthy disregard for the rules of polite cinema, Domino can't help but recall Scott's own True Romance.
Working withcinematographer Dan Mindel, Scott unleashes awillfully frenetic barrage of images that at times seems impressionistic andgives off the feel of "found footage," haphazardly arranged for viewing. Cross-processing film stock, and overlapping dialogue and frames,Scott piles on the affectation to the point where the psychotic jumbleoverwhelms the story proper and becomes its own brawny, parallel narrative.
This is one ofthe reasons Domino fails as a biopic- because almost any human exchanges, particularly those at the end of thefilm, are lost in a hail of orgiastic style. While True Romance had a wild and woolly energy and stylistic conveyance,it also had characters you cared about.
Domino is cocksure and strident, but it's all posture for posture's sake.Despite some sneering voiceover narration, we don't get to really know anythingabout Domino and what informs her choices, save that the death of her goldfishwhen she's 10 (turned into high drama by Scott) apparently turned her into adepreciatory nihilist.
I know. It's atthis point that you're coming up out of your seat telling me that the film isobviously a sly and subversive satire. While it is true that
As Choco, Ramirez (Punto Y Raya) makes a strong impression as a man of few words. Aclose-cropped Knightley, at the other end of thespectrum, shows a rare combination of beauty and irrepressible spunk that willcontinue to feed the rise of her star. Rourke too, onthe heels of this spring's Sin City,delivers another performance that reminds you what a blazing talent he was inhis heyday.
New Line Cinema
Scott Free Productions
New Line Cinema
Richard Kelly, from a story by Kelly and Steve Barancik
Brian Austin Green