Dir: Anthony Hopkins. US. 2007. 110mins.
Anthony Hopkins' first film as a director since 1996's August is a
rambling, sporadically engaging experiment which attempts to illustrate
a man's descent into madness through stream-of-consciousness visuals
and distorted, overlapping narratives.
Although David Lynch has proved time and again that there is a limited
theatrical audience and potential cult value in unconventional
storytelling like this, Slipstream is unlikely to find much of an
audience, especially at its current 110-minute length. Nevertheless, the
Hopkins has adopted a cluttered, frenzied visual style here which
never lets up. Endless camera flashes intermingle with glimpses of
newspaper headlines, archival footage and stills (
resignation, Abu Ghraib) and shards of memory from the life of the lead
character - a screenwriter called Felix Bonhoeffer. The visual overload
is relentless and quickly maddening, and will give many viewers a
The film starts with Bonhoeffer at a racetrack with a friend. On the way back in his car on the freeway, he witnesses a severe road rage incident in which a man shoots several drivers screaming 'We've lost the plot' (the first of numerous cute screenwriting references).
Meanwhile, flamboyant old dame Bette Lustig (Flannagan) is preparing
to travel to
While this is happening, her boss Mort (
The following day on the road, Bette and Gina stop at a diner in the desert for some breakfast, where they are served by the affable waitress Bonnie (S Epatha Merkerson). However, the diner is suddenly invaded by Ray and Lars who pull guns and take everyone hostage. Ray begins a rant about what he dubs greatest film ever made - Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers - and its lead actor Kevin McCarthy.
Just as this narrative strand is becoming interesting, the camera pulls back to reveal that the diner hold-up is in fact a scene in the film which Bonhoeffer has written and which is shooting under the direction of the highly strung Gavin (Gavin Grazer). In the middle of his Bodysnatchers speech, it appears that the actor playing Ray has overheated and died, leaving the film in turmoil.
Irascible movie mogul Harvey (Turturro) is called to the set to solve the crisis and he orders Bonhoeffer to rewrite the script, but the screenwriter has lost the plot himself and his real life and his fictional world are on a collison course from which he cannot escape.
Hopkins generates a Lynchian sense of menace in the diner sequences,
enhanced by his own lowkey jazz-inflected score, but the film crew
scenes which take over are hysterical and arch, and the early noir mood
of the film is never revisited.
A curio, then - McCarthy makes an appearance, as does Dolly Parton (!)
- but one which will struggle to find an audience patient enough to
enter Bonhoeffer's slipstream into madness.
Michael R Miller
Michael Clarke Duncan
S Epatha Merkerson