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Brand Upon the Brain!

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Director: Guy Maddin
Year: 2006

It's back to the cinema after a fairly long break, for my first film of the London Film Festival. Alas, I am not going to too many these year -- primarily because the BFI were slack about sending out my programme, so I didn't get it until long after booking had started. My picks are therefore heavy on familiar auteur films, since I didn't get a chance to have a good read of the descriptions as I usually do and pick some less orthodox choices.

However, Maddin is as ever far from orthodox in his filmmaking style. Brand finds him pursuing a pastiche silent film serial style that earlier work had hinted at (including the effortlessly wonderful The Heart of the World short film, which takes the Soviet silent film as its cue).

This work playfully toys with an autobiographical subtext by naming its central character Guy Maddin, who in heeding his mother's dying wish, comes back to the lighthouse orphanage where he was brought up, reminiscing about his childhood. Narrating the film is Isabella Rossellini, while intertitles cut in to breathlessly advance the narrative, with no shortage of exclamation marks in doing so.

The film is divided into twelve chapters, and features evil scientists, teenage detectives, domineering mothers, crazed plots, and gay subtexts (not particularly sub most of the time, actually). Maddin has no shortage of inventiveness to apply to the giddy scenario, and this beautifully grainy film is never less than entertaining.
Cinema's Location:
London SE1 8XT
Rating (out of 5):
ecstatic ****
BFI Southbank
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