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THE FORBIDDEN ROOM (Canada 2015) ****
Directed by Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson
Review by Gilbert Seah
Another weird and wonderful film by Guy Maddin with co-creator Evan Johnson – and one of Maddin’s best and most structured, which is not saying much. And the film is in colour instead of black and white.
The film begins, humorously with a man in a bathrobe (Louis Negin) giving lessons on how to draw a bath. This vignette is linked to another concerning a submarine crew in dire distress. The captain is missing and the air supply is running out. They chew on flapjacks to utilize the oxygen bubbles in the batter. Does not make sense? It does not matter. All this is part of the weird pleasure that is abundant in a Maddin film. A woodsman (Roy Dupuis) suddenly appears and the crew figure if there is a way in the sub, there must be a way out. It turns out the woodsman is one of many out to rescue a damsel in distress from a pack of forest bandits. And so it goes on.
The way in which one scene leads to the next is impossibly funny. A bust of the God Janus leads to possession of the carrier transforming him into Lug Lug. To get rid of the bust, he finds a night auction to sell it to. But he ends up bidding with his double but finally winning the bid and buying the bust back. He turns into Lug Lug again to kill his double. This is one example. But it is the most hilarious segment. And beware – the ASWANG! – a black rotten black cone shaped rotting banana aka the jungle vampire. (The aswang actually is the devil in the banana tree in Philippines folklore.)
Shot in Paris, which is the reason the film contains a more than impressive cast of French and Quebecois actors including Roy Dupuis, Udo Kier, Mathieu Amalric, Geraldine Chaplin, Charlotte Rampling, Maria de Medeiros, Jacques Nolot and a few other surprises. Shot in various old gothic styles of films of old, Maddin’s film is terribly funny, nostalgic and the perfect vehicle to watch while under the influence. A real treat that might be too weird for everyone’s taste!
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