MRR Movie Review: Rage


Movie Review: "Rage"

-- Rating: Unrated
Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: Feb. 8, 2009
Directed by: Sally Potter
Genre: Drama

The drama film "Rage" is the first feature movie to debut on cell phones. It features a young blogger shooting behind-the-scenes interviews using his mobile phone at a New York fashion house. The movie is written and directed by Sally Potter and stars Jude Law and Judi Dench. According to its producers, the production of this film heralded a new dawn in movie making, a new genre that is called "naked cinema."

In the movie, Michelangelo, an unseen young photographer, goes around filming interviews for his blog. This blog focuses on the backstage events of a show put together by a New York fashion house headed by Simon Abkarian's character, Merlin.

While perusing his video recording, the cinematographer witnesses someone killing the models, one by one. The cast members include Judi Dench as Mona Carvel, a critic with a sour disposition, Lily Cole as Lettuce Leaf, one of the models, Jude Law as Minx, a transvestite, and Steve Buscemi as Frank, a cop. What is interesting is that the interviewees continue to offer their views, even though some of their colleagues have been killed, and they know it.

As the interviews progress and the interviewees reveal more about themselves, viewers are left wondering who is causing all the chaos. Can all these strange happenings be coincidental? Or is Michelangelo the cause of all these mayhem?
In "Rage," established film stars are cast alongside realative unknowns. Many people know Law, Buscemi, and the other big names; but who is Abkarian? What is fascinating is that this talented cast manages to pull off an act engaging enough to be worth watching. Some film critics have said that their performances are probably the only good thing about the movie, and that the actors had to do excel because nothing else in the movie works.

In this film, Potter goes backs to the basics and manages to create a compelling production, if nothing else. Those who are claiming disappointment in the movie may have had greater expectations due to the prestigious cast members.

The movie shots are comprised of successive monologues from different characters in close up shots. The backgrounds are flat, consisting of muted gray to yellow colors. Potter, who has been described as adventurous, released the film in a series of episodes roughly running for 15 minutes each.

It is intriguing to note that the interviews in "Rage" are not all about the models. The interviews include a financier, public relation officers, a seamstress, a pizza delivery man, and even a few interns. What is improbable is that all these diverse people have chosen to confide in Michelangelo, and their revelations are not exactly chaste.

Rage can either be appealing or not, depending on how it is categorized and who is watching. If it was meant as a serious critique of the New York fashion industry, then more could have been done to make it believable and insightful. However, it is highly unlikely that such an assessment was Potter's intention.

What should be acknowledged is that films are not always meant to have serious content, and "Rage" holds no such delusions of grandeur. As a work of art, its portraiture is amazing and even its seemingly cartoon characters are occasionally amusing. The characters have interesting mannerisms: Carvel is acerbic, while Bob Balaban's character, Mr. White, is passive-aggressive.

Whatever else can be said about "Rage," it succeeds in holding the attention of many viewers for its entire runtime of 95 minutes. Truth be told, few people expect a movie made essentially of close-up interviews to be this enthralling. It may or may not have turned out as Potter intended, but it works well if viewed purely in that light of video as a form of art.

As mentioned above, most of the cast members are well known actors. Buscmei is a talented American film actor, director, and writer who has appeared in numerous movies and television series. The productions he has been associated with include "New York Stories," "Fargo," "Barton Fink," "30 Rock," and "Nurse Jackie," among others. Potter has made several feature films such as "Orlando," "Yes," and "The Gold Diggers." Law is a renowned English actor, director, and producer, best remembered for his acting role "The Talented Mr. Ripley," which earned him a nomination for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. "Rage" can be summed up in one word: remarkable.

Rating: 2 out of 5