Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Clean, Shaven (Kerrigan, 1994)

Lodge Kerrigan’s Clean, Shaven may be a very good movie, but I must report that it was not a film that I particularly wanted to see. There is definite skill to the way in which Kerrigan introduces us to Peter, his mentally disturbed central character, largely without the use of dialogue. Without conventional exposition, we learn pretty much everything we need to know about the characters in question through observation. I very much liked Kerrigan’s recurrent use of a radio not quite tuned in properly to serve as a metaphor for a brain in crisis. In the beginning, it leads us to wonder why Peter is having difficulty ‘tuning in’. In the end, we are left to wonder whether it was those on the outside who were having trouble tuning into Peter. On the down side, I was bothered by certain challenges the film issues, as if we will come to some greater understanding of schizophrenia by enduring enough unpleasantness. Are these gross-out moments artistically justifiable? Perhaps. All I can say is that I don’t feel particularly more enlightened for having experienced them. While Peter tries to meet up with the daughter that was taken from him and placed with an adoptive mother, he is tracked down by a detective who feels that he may have committed some serious crimes. This leads to a conclusion that is either revelatory or confusing depended on how much thought I am willing to give it at any given moment. Strangely, it seems that more thought makes the ending more perplexing. My best guess is that this is the kind of feeling Kerrigan hopes we will have about Peter ultimately – that we will not feel confident in judging his actions because we know that we cannot fully comprehend his mind.



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