Category Archives: GLBT Film

“BRIEF STORY FROM THE GREEN PANET” (“Breve historia del planeta verde”)— An Otherworldly Embrace of Tolerance

“BRIEF STORY FROM THE GREEN PANET” (“Breve historia del planeta verde”)

An Otherworldly Embrace of Tolerance

Amos Lassen

Santiago Loza’s low-budget “Brief Story from a Green Planet” is about three Argentine misfits on a self-fortifying alien rescue mission. Tania (Romina Escobar), Daniela (Paula Grinszpan) and Pedro (Luis Soda) as Pedro are our zany characters in this zany and fun film.

it sounds ostentatiously quirky. Headstrong trans woman Tania returns to her childhood home to discover that her late grandmother spent her final years raising a pint-sized alien as a surrogate child, and that the old woman’s dying wish was for the now ailing creature to be returned to where it first appeared on Earth. With friends Pedro and Daniela, Tania sets off across rural Argentina to take the alien to rest.

Writer-director Santiago Loza gives is an enigmatic, melancholy tone. We see the three protagonists moping around their respective apartments, each seemingly afflicted with a severe case of urban alienation. Daniela, is nursing a broken heart. Pedro seems at peace on the dance floor of his local queer club, but uneasy in heteronormative environments. Tania suffers the constant indignity of being objectified and harassed by men she happens to cross paths with.

The three find a reserve of inner strength, and begin to turn the tables on those that oppress them.. In one sequence,  we watch Pedro dances uninhibitedly in a backwater diner, showing his queerness in a macho space. He’s pushed to the ground by a local who makes it clear that such freedom of expression isn’t welcome there. Tania confronts the assailant, who turns out to be a former schoolmate, and, by establishing Pedro and herself as his equals, makes him quickly see his mistake. It seems that their connection to the alien has given them supernatural powers to combat prejudice.

We realize that this strange set-up is a simple plea for tolerance and that those who accept the unfamiliar, in whatever form it may take, have an easier time of it in this world than those who don’t.  As we move toward the film’s climax, we watch our three heroes eradicate a menacing, torch-carrying mob, simply by being a united front. It’s haunting and striking to see.  

As the title already suggests, this film is quite brief indeed, coming in at 70 minutes.  It recently won the prestigious Teddy Award at the Berlin International Film Festival. “Brief Story” uses sci-if elements in s a subtly-stylized film about respecting the other. Here, the word ‘other’ refers to a number of things but most notably to an alien being that the trio is attempting to bring back to its place of origin.

The other significant reference is of course towards the LGBT community as the film looks at what it means to be different in a world that can be hostile to them.  It has its surreal moments, but those are far and few between. “Brief Story”  is strange but that did not stop me from enjoying it. The disjointed nature of the narrative, as well as the uneven tone and style works beautifully.

Each of the characters is damaged but of the three, Pedro seems most at ease with himself, so long as he has the time and space to dance the night away at his local queer club yet forced back into more heteronormative space, he wilts. The first 20 minutes deals with the three in an almost wordless fashion, showing each individual world almost exclusively through music and light. There is a visual quality to the opening that contrasts sharply with what is to come.

After this gentle introduction the peace is broken by a phone call telling Tania that her grandmother has died and she must travel up-country/out of town to settle her affairs. Her friends accompany her and still there is next to no hint of what is to come.

Tania’s grandmother met and befriended an alien  who is now sleeping downstairs in a fridge in the basement. Perhaps they can respect gran’s last wishes by transporting the poor little alien back to where gran found him. What is really going on? It is all very unsettling, because whatever you expected to happen is not going to do so. What follows is every bit as provoking as what you just found out.

We see a lot of the trio just dragging the suitcase up and down highways and through woods and not getting anywhere. They do undergo a series of encounters and adventures that may or may not mean something.

The bigger message is about standing up for what you believe and asserting queer values over the local bigotry and ultimately the three of them seem to achieve something remarkable by the power of words.

This is an intriguing film which, for all its shortcomings, is great fun. Too often it cuts to scenes that don’t flow naturally, consequently disrupting the film’s flow to reset the film’s trajectory. While the alien is only intended to be a catalyst to explore other issues, but with no coherent connections or theme tying these sequences together, we only get a series of bizarre scenes without any sense of deeper meaning.

From a technical standpoint this is a beauty. Lighting, framing and sound are all used to the fullest to create a hypnotic atmosphere.

“KILL THE MONSTERS”— Traveling Across America


Traveling Across America

Amos Lassen

Ryan Lonergan’s “Kill the Monsters” is Patrick (Lonergan), Frankie (Jack Ball) and Sutton (Garrett McKechnie), a triad of adventurers who, when one of them becomes ill, the two others decide to head west in search of new adventures and holistic treatment. As they travel, they revisit key points in the history of this country.  

Frankie (Jack Ball) becomes mysteriously ill and his partners  Patrick and Sutton agree to go west to fid seek holistic treatment. Frankie had been stuck in a dead-end job and becomes ill with a mysterious ailment. His partner Patrick is practical and suffocating and Sutton is fun and careless. Yet the three love each other very much. They believe that the only way to cure Frankie is go across the country and find a doctor that will cure Frankie of the way he feels.  

 The film opens with a Benjamin Franklin’s quote,  “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch” and we learn later that this film  He later explains that the film is an allegory of American Democracy and is structured in chapters named after key points in American history. As they travel, the three argue, separate and come back together.  They never miss an opportunity to sell their relationship arrangement to all that come along.  

The black and white cinematography is gorgeous with its American landscapes backed by wonderful classical melodies. This allegorical comedy is replete with fun and witty dialogue. We see what love is all about and that it is like American politics, multi-faceted and multi-layered. This is a film filled with romance and eroticism as we see the high and low points of some of America’s history. I found the way Patrick and Shannon seemed to both want to gain more of Frankie’s affection to represent how the right and left joust for power. There is a raunchiness to what we see with the guys’ desires , jealousies, highs and lows portrayed honestly and freshly and the fact that the trio approaches life with abandon so do we find ourselves wishing  to be able to do the same.

The performances are excellent all around and we sense the  chemistry between the three man even as each seeks his place in today’s world. Everything is totally real and believable. I believe that we will be seeing a great deal more of Ryan Lonergan as an actor and as a writer-director.


THE BLUE FLOWER OF NOVALIS (“A rosa azul de Novalis”) 


Amos Lassen

“The Blue Flower of Novalis” begins with a closeup on its subject’s private parts (being polite here) and it is hard to separate the pornography from its conversational approach to its subject, Marcelo Diorio. This documentary integrates the most mundane and unconventional elements of this São Paulo resident’s life and beliefs to create an unforgettable and explicit portrait.

The lens is trained tight on Diorio as he shares his physical and emotional self in direct conversation with those behind the camera. Surreal re-enactments occasionally break this structure and the unintentional comedy se sometimes distracts but Diorio’s commitment to the form.

Diorio commands the camera’s gaze and is in control of his narrative. Most of his anecdotes and beliefs are expressed with complete self-assurance and faith. No facet of Diorio’s life is off limits. He speaks about incest, death, family, faith, and his HIV diagnosis.  He is nonchalant as he shares his fears and disappointments about living up to his homophobic family’s expectations. His charisma and candor can only keep our attention for so long. The last 20 minutes of the film become pornography and a shocking yet sensitive exploration of Diorio’s sexuality, spirituality, and reconciliation of the two.

“The Blue Flower of Novalis”  uses provocation to provide narrative momentum making this a film  that is not for everyone. Yet even with its structural flaws, it is an empathetic, non-judgmental portrait of a man disregarding taboos and mores in his search for truth.

“The asshole needs to be urgently introduced into the social and political realm,” reads the closing line of Gustavo Vinagre  and Rodrigo Carneiro’s directors’ statement about the film. It opens with an extreme closeup of the asshole and it is framed at a disorienting angle, swelling and contracting as if it were breathing.  We then hear verse recited from off-screen and then the film cuts to a full shot of a naked man  in a yoga plough pose, reading from a collection of Hilda Hilst poems with his rear pointing upwards. Marcelo, the poetry-reading yogi, is a co-author of the film and we never know if what we see is staged or spontaneous.

There are moments that totally depart from reality, such as when Marcelo talks about his brother’s death, the camera shows a funeral happening on the other side of his apartment, with four grieving family members gathered around the brother’s casket. Marcelo joins them and (his voice digitally made to reverberate as if he were speaking inside a church), says that in their youth he and his brother had an incestuous relationship. When the film then returns to him sitting exactly as he was before the camera went to the funeral, it is implied that the scene was in Marcelo’s head and we’re not sure of how much of his revelation was genuine and how much was just part of a performance.

We see that Marcelo has used performing as a means of survival in real life as well. He is intelligent and well read. He gets inspiration and solace from his cultural idols including  Novalis, Georges Bataille, Nina Simone, Maria Callas, Franz Kafka and uses that inspiration to deal with the intolerance he deals with as a queer HIV-positive man who grew up in a homophobic family. By giving him mastery over his own narrative, the film does not see him as a victim.

The opening shot offers an illustration of the invasive nature of cinéma vérité that is outrageous and extremely powerful.

“1 VERSUS 100”— Meet Malia

“1 VERSUS 100”

Meet Malia

Amos Lassen

Every once in a while I see a movie that is almost impossible for me to review— for whatever reason. Bruno Kohfield-Galeano’s “1 Versus 100” is one such film. It stars Anna McClean, Nancy Nezbit, Charla Cochran and Walter Mecham who all give outstanding performances.

When Larry (Mecham), a powerful attorney, finds out his teenage daughter, Malia (McClean) is gay, he kicks her out for good. She is forced to live with her girlfriend, Lian (Nezbit), as she pieces her life back together. Five years later, Larry is found dead under suspicious circumstances and this brings Malia to end her exotic dancing career. On her last shift she meets Ben, an adult film producer who tempts her to star in an adult movie. Malia is then involved in a car crash that leaves her unable to work for months. Now broke and facing eviction, Malia decides to star in the adult film as the police are cornering in on her mother Susan for the murder of Larry.

What makes this film so special are the emptions we feel while watching. This is not a film that it is possible to just walk away from it. It has stayed with me for some two weeks and I am sure that I will be thinking about it for a very long time. Rather than risk writing a spoiler, I choose to not say anymore. I urge you to see and draw your own conclusions.

“I WAS NOT BORN A MISTAKE”— Meet Yiscah Smith


Meet Yiscah Smith

Amos Lassen

·Yiscah Smith was living as an ultra-Orthodox married man with six children and deep ties in the community before coming out as a gay man and leaving Israel. Once she was back in the United States, Yiscah come out as trans, underwent gender transition and took her current name. It took twenty years for Yiscah to return to Israel, where she became a religious educator and spiritual mentor. The film shows her incredible journey to self-acceptance, compassion, and, finally, to her home in Israel. It alternates between past and present, where she helps clients on their own paths of awareness and self-discovery.

This is probably one of the most intriguing transition stories we have ever seen.  Born in a devout Observant Jewish family in Brooklyn as Yakov Smith, he was picked on and bullied for being effeminate.  As he grew into a teenager and young man, he became increasing desperate to fit in with society.

By the time the he was 24 in 1971, he was  totally immersed in the Chabad Hasidic movement in Brooklyn, and was then married an Orthodox woman. They had three sons and three daughters, and in 1985 they decided  to immigrate to Israel.

Where Smith taught at a synagogue in Jerusalem, he was considered a rising star and was made chairman in the Chabad house where he was in charge of Shabbat and entertained guests from around the globe. Everything seemed great on the outside but all the while, Smith did not questioning their own identity.  But after a Shabbat dinner, a guest drew Smith to aside and told him that he could see through his act.

This is what brought Smith to take s good look at life and he decided to come out as gay with the result that  his wife started divorce proceedings.  This also led to Smith being fired and shunned by his community. This eventually caused him to return to New York alone.

In New York, Smith  led a secular life and ending up in California, working at Starbucks and living with a boyfriend.  The relationship ended when the boyfriend said that Smith was too much like a woman. This was an important moment.

Becoming Yiscah Smith did not men just undergoing gender reassignment surgery but also finding her faith again and  coming back to Orthodox Judaism. After having a brief relationship with a man from Texas man and coming to terms with her estranged mother, Smith returned to re-settle in Israel and has been successful as an educator, spiritual advisor  and speaker in the “post-denominational Jewish experience.  She is confident and happy and even while knowing and reluctantly accepting that only 2 of her 6 children will speak with her and then, occasionally.  We see Smith as a woman who usually overthinks things and some of her decisions are still surprising.

She does not  accept that she is a trans woman and demands that she has always been a straight woman who is attracted to men.  She firmly believes this and when questioned about she is quick to dismisses her involvement with any transgender community. With Smith, the real transition is finding her way back to Judaism and her religion is the one and only identity that accepts her with unquestioning faith.

“I Was Not Born A Mistake” is the directorial debut of Israeli filmmakers Eyal Ben Moshe and Rachel Rusinek. I would have liked a few more interviews/comments from people who had shared parts of Smith’s life.  Nonetheless, this is an important film that makes valuable contributions to the dialogue about the transgender community.

“YOU’LL NEVER BE ALONE”— Father and Son


Father and Son

Amos Lassen

Based on a true story, Pablo (Andrew Bargstead) is a gay teenager just finding his way in the world. He loves drag and sex, but doesn’t seem to have many other goals. His father, Juan (Sergio Hernández), can’t understand what is going on with his son. He’s always believed that in working hard and applying oneself, success will come and a responsible person will be the result.

After years of planning and trying, Juan hopes to invest in the company he’s been employed by for the past 25 years, and become a partner in the business and will finally be independent. But then Pablo is horrifically beaten in a homophobic attack and may not survive. Juan becomes caught in the bureaucracy of the healthcare system, which means that even with insurance, he’s expected to pay exorbitant sums for his son’s care. The police are indifferent about bringing the attackers to justice and Juan’s dreams for financial security are in jeopardy thus placing everything he has always believed into question.

Juan is a man who’s fully signed up to the dream of both what his life could be, and how his country is there to support him. However, he never expected to have a gay son, and after the attack everything he believed is true starts to fall apart.

The attack on Pablo is lengthy, brutal and  difficult to watch. Then, there are moments when the film deals with the bureaucracy of Chilean society and Juan’s optimism is gradually broken. However, pulling these things together is problematic making the film feel a little disjointed and this disrupts the pacing.

The beginning the movie is mostly about Pablo and his life of clubs, drag, sex (there are a couple of pretty hot sex scenes) and his friends. However, after the attack, we hardly ever see him again. The film does this, I presume, so we care about him and when he is beaten it has more power, but because it’s spent relatively little time introducing us to Juan, it feels like an abrupt shift when this suddenly becomes his story. This happens several times, as if the director has spent a lot of time thinking about what is important about the various sections of the movie, but not what can hold them all together.

 There is anger and emotion in this look at how the fallout of homophobia sells people an idea of life that may not be achievable. We get an interesting take on a Chilean LGBT story set in Santiago, where director Alex Anwandter was born. The film shows two different worlds colliding. Against the beautiful world which Pablo creates, the film’s outer world seems drab, and this seems to be an impression that is very skillfully crafted by the director. In contrast to Pablo’s bedroom, the film’s settings seem carefully chosen for their pale qualities and straight-forward layouts.

This overhanging theme of an almost perfect normality is reinforced by Pablo’s father deep investment in the world of a mannequin factory, where we he oversees others as they try to create a supposedly perfect body shape and skin tone. It is against this backdrop that we see Pablo furtively playing with one of his closeted neighbors Felix. It is intense playing. Sexuality almost always comes in snatched, fragmented flashbacks in the film, making it never fully clear if what we’re seeing is just the return of fond, silenced memories or actually an on-going act of supposed transgression. The look at the gay experience in Chile isn’t as clichéd as some of this might make it sound.

We don’t see a gay son shunned by overly Catholic parents — Pablo’s mother seems strangely absent throughout this film — and this is not just another movie about a man who comes out by being overly flamboyant. The relationship between Pablo and his father Juan is complex and seems to position himself somewhere between willful ignorance and genuine despair at not knowing how to relate to his son.

The film is about much more than just a family split across a hetero/homosexual divide. These two generations both represent very specific sides to Chilean society, with Pablo being a doubter who struggles with modern Chile, whilst Juan is one of the old guard who is part of the capitalist dream. This doesn’t stop them from loving each other though, and the message that their connection can exist across a sexual and generational divide is clear even if Juan’s nature does sometimes cause him to be seen as distant.

It is only when Pablo’s world collides with the machismo of  three other young boys in the neighborhood that issues really arise. These moments arrive with an unforgiving flourish of violence.

Anwandter was loosely inspired to make this film by a horrific attack that shocked much of South America in 2012. This terrible incident saw an openly gay Chilean man be assaulted by a group of neo-Nazis, and that is sadly not far from what we brutally see and hear in this film.

Sergio Hernández’s performance  after the awful attack shows real talent as he slowly transforms into a bumbling figure of rage who seems to be betrayed at every turn. He is let down legally, medically, romantically and professionally as he tries to do right by his son, and is left facing some terrible choices. It is only then in the final minutes of this film that we understand the true significance of this film’s title.

“CUNNINGHAM”— A Dancer’s Story


A Dancer’s Story

Amos Lassen

Alla Kovgan’s documentary about modern dance legend Merce Cunningham seems to be taking orders from the late choreographer himself. The film quotes him saying in that he didn’t feel it appropriate or necessary to describe what his dances were about, and the film lets dancing tell his story.

Focusing on Cunningham’s works dating from 1942 to 1972, and his longtime collaborations with composer John Cage and other artists from Robert Rauschenberg to Andy Warhol, Kovgan mixes biography and art. The often scratchy-looking archival footage gives context for the milieu Cunningham was operating in. The latter sections, in which Kovgan stages a number of Cunningham’s pieces in settings ranging from a subway tunnel to a forest and are filmed in 3D with luscious colors.

The film is both ascetic and playful with Cunningham functioning as the beginning avant-garde dance from the time he started producing work in the ‘40s. As we see in the archival interviews, Cunningham didn’t appear to have much of a grand unifying theory behind his style. He rejected the idea that he was some kind of modernist pioneer, he insists to one interviewer that he was simply “a dancer” and was really more interested in expanding the repertoire of movements available to performers by combining the techniques of ballet with what was already happening in modern dance. He says that “I have nothing to say and I am saying it.”

In describing the reaction to one of his dances, Cunningham says that “the audience was puzzled.” After a performance in Paris, food was hurled at the dancers. There was confusion about the lack of an underlying story or intent to deliver a singular emotion. Making even less sense is the dismissal of many of Cunningham’s pieces as “cold” and “passionless”. What is staged here by Kovgan are  sometimes airy and insubstantial or gangly and jagged but they are also “lush and buoyant.”

We hear and see Cunningham say that the dances aren’t intended to reference anything— interpretation is up to the audience. There is no distancing, no narration or restrictive frame. The camera doesn’t stand back; it plunges straight into the thick of the action. Even the timeline is flexible. Kovgan – and the audience along with her – becomes more than mere observer, instead engaging directly with the work.

Putting the dance front and center , we are invited to get to know Cunningham through his art. Cunningham’s partner John Cage provides personal insights, helping us to understand the toughness it took to turn artistic vision into reality. We hear from Cunningham himself, reflecting on his relationship with his work – the fierceness he could use when needed but also his inclination to be a part of it rather than steering it. It was the art, not the man, that mattered.

Cunningham’s work is rooted in an appreciation of what a trained body can do, in expressions of physical possibility that come before aesthetic concerns. We see footage of his own dancing which combines discipline with a constant desire to explore, to test the boundaries. Even when he’s trying hard to be serious and focused, he can’t altogether hide the pleasure that he finds in his art – even in its imperfections.


“Male Shorts: International V3”

Five Short Gay Films

Amos Lassen

I am reminded of how many gay short films that we never get to see every time a new collection is issued. Not everyone can make it to LGBTQ film festivals where these films are screened. The International Male Shorts collections from Breaking Glass Films help to fill in the gap with films we ordinarily not get to see. “Male Shorts: International V3”  brings us five shorts focusing on men.. Each of the films is presented in its original language (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and German) with English subtitles.

“Vanilla” directed by Leo Tabosa plays with the taste of vanilla on everything.

Marcio Miranda Perez’s “LightRapping” is the story of Gustavo, a photographer who captures the bodies of naked men in public spaces around Sao Paulo. One night,  curious, undecided and young Pedro follows him as the two men embark on a journey.

“Polaroid” from Roberto Cuzzillo is the story of a young man from Sicily who goes to Berlin in search of his one-time lover but finds that he is now a family man who does not want to have anything more to do with the affair the two had of the previous summer.

“Five Minutes a Day” directed by Frederico Evaristo and Bob Yang introduces us to Jefferson (Jefferson Mascarehas) and Jorge (Guilherme Chelucci)  who are now living together.

 Simone Bozzelli’s “My Brother” is about two brothers, Umberto and Stefano,  who have just moved into a new apartment, where they share the same bedroom. Since their mother is away, Stefano has to look after his younger brother who is wants affection and contact.

“WEST NORTH WEST” (“Seihokusei”)—   Three Woman

“WEST NORTH WEST” (“Seihokusei”)  

Three Woman

Amos Lassen

Takuro Nakamura’s debut feature “West North West” is the story of three women.  Kei (Hanae Kan) is a waitress going through a rocky relationship with her jealous girlfriend Ai (Yuka Yamauchi), a model working to break onto magazine covers. Their relationship has as many fights as it does sex.  Kei faces the difficulties of coming to terms with her sexuality and this is turned further upside down when shy Iranian art student Naima (Sahel Rosa) walks into her life. The two become friends and that friendship centers on cultural, religious, and sexual discovery. As the two women seek meaning in their lives tensions begin as Naima give grants Kei an ultimatum.

We get a look into the cultural exchange and exploratory sexuality between a trio of young women who live lives of loneliness and isolation in a modern-day Tokyo. Silence exists between the women and between us and them: the viewer remains distant and fails to connect with the characters who are as numb as they are conflicted. Their motionless exteriors, mask their true feelings and struggles.

We do not know if the action is deliberately stunted or the intentional display of emotional disconnect but either way, the muted performances of its lead actors and a sudden departure in pacing halfway through, drag the film as it wanders through predictable clichés and a lack of character development.

“West North West” puts Naima, Kei, and Ai in each other’s paths with Kei being dealt the cruelest hand. She is already questioning her sexuality while in a volatile relationship with Ai. Kan’s performance is bland and mostly void of emotion; on the surface this is off-putting but digging deeper we realize that she practically represents what any young woman struggling with her sexuality goes through. The other two leads, similar to Kan, also are neurotically depicted. Ai goes beyond manipulative and possessive.

The monotony of the film means that its vulnerabilities are handled with care and respect, even when they are attacked from the outside.

Yet this is a film worth seeing in order to better understand the struggles of marginalized women and to see an artistic yet basic approach to deliver such stories.

“DON’T LOOK DOWN”— Sex Love and Grudges


Sex Love and Grudges

Amos Lassen

“Don’t Look Down” (“Haut perches”) from French auteurs Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau is about five strangers, Veronika (Manila Auxire), Marius (Geoffrey Couët), Nathan (Simon Frenay), Louis (François Nambot) and Lawrence (Lawrence Valin) who find themselves together in Louis’ Paris apartment. They are there because one individual unites them all and he’s waiting inside a room in the corner of the house, one we never get to enter.

All we know about the room is that the man inside it hurt every character. He manipulated, abused and humiliated them each differently way. They  take turns entering the room to exorcise the man from their lives, and we are left to decipher the in-betweens. In these moments they share stories of how they ended up here tonight. They all fell for him in some way or another, and he used them all  and left serious scars as he did so.

We are never allowed to meet the man whom we hear so much about, and the characters are not allowed to talk about what happens in the room either, everything about him is a mystery. We hear a lot of conversation that only vaguely connects to the situation and most of it is intensely sexual.

They go around and share their deepest fantasies. Even though they promise not to judge each other, it seems like they all do so. As all of this is going on, they prepare and eat a lot of food and drink plenty of wine. As they do, tenuous bonds begin to form between them.

The film focuses and evolves on the relationships but no one seems to be finding any genuine closure and we do not learn crucial information— how was this all organized? How did they find out about each other? And most of all what is going on in that room? The powerful concept the film aims for is that there is a power in knowing you aren’t the alone angle and even though its depiction of camaraderie is effective, the depiction of the relationship between abused and abuser is missing.

Each member of the cast is excellent. There is a lot of dialogueand the actors transition beautifully from one scene to the next. They are engaging when they need to be.  One by one, each has moments in the spotlight, detailing what the man did to them, and it works on every level. The casting is the strongest aspect of this film because they are everything about the film that make it work.

“Don’t Look Down” tells a simple truth—the reason that it is hard to let go of a grudge because it’s easier to have someone else to blame when love does not go as hoped. The movie is full of symbolism but, rather than being distracting or opaque, it’s accessible and makes a useful point without being condescending. Paintings on the wall show how people are often seen only in parts rather than as whole by the people around them. A silly argument on how to slice an apple tart becomes a metaphor for who is willing to share and how.

The movie depends on a dinner party setting and it can be enjoyed simply for the sexual overtones and the murderous undercurrent. The lesson of real domestic utility is beneath the sexy exterior.