BEYOND THE BLACK RAINBOW falls into that category of “message” film though the message may only be clear to the filmmaker Panos Cosmatos. Or as Tolkien may call him, “a lesser son of greater sires.” His father’s filmography includes OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN, RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II, COBRA, LEVIATHAN, and TOMBSTONE. If Panos possesses a fraction of his father’s talent I expect great things from him. BTBR shows flashes of this brilliance trapped by conceit and what amounts to flashy navel gazing.
|What the fuck is a “Sentionaut”?|
The flick opens with a utopian message from the unlikely named, Mercurio Arboria, head of the Arboria Institute which helps people to find their happiness through “benign pharmacology” and other peaceful methods. The institute is in “reality” a dystopian and sterile hell hole, seemingly only populated by Elena, Dr. Barry Nyle, Dr. Arboria, Nurse Margo, a “sentionaut” and a mutant. On a side note, anytime there is something called a “sentionaut” in a flick I crank up the goofiness and pretentiousness scale more so than usual.
|The red is raping my eyes…|
Being one of the medicated in this world, I found certain scenes particularly powerful and disturbing. Specifically there is one where Barry gets home and he has his meds lined up on the bathroom sink and he takes them one by one. He grabs a pill and places it in his mouth. Picks up his glass with the same hand, takes a small drink and repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat. The scene ends with a troubling freeze frame of him smiling in a very unsettling manner.
|It was interesting looking at first but needed some plot to back it up.|
Some may compare it to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY or other films of that era, maybe something Cronenberg. Unfortunately it comes across as overly produced with false grains, fake film scratches, and an inordinate use of red and green washes. It is visually appealing until it becomes oppressive. Cosmatos pretty much rapes our eyes with red and though it lends itself to creating the unpleasant experience he desires it makes the film almost unwatchable. This thing ends up being mostly incomprehensible as well as an “artistic” offense to the eyes. It’s a message of man vs. medicine, science vs. human nature, artificial vs. natural all wrapped and folded within each other and ensconced in pretension.
|Apparently this is what happens on antidepressants.|
It has mutants, gorks, frigging “sentionauts,” inexplicable introduction of body count padding characters with less than 15 minutes of film left and all the trappings of a bad idea given free reign. There’s a reason it cost over one million CAD to make and has grossed less than 50Gs. It’s interesting at first glance, but overall is drowned out by tedium and self perceived cleverness. If you must, check it out on DVD. The real highlight of this flick is the soundtrack.
If you are going to see just one movie by one Cosmatos, make sure you see COBRA