When they have finally stripped you of the handbags and the glad rags

That's not my Judesie...!

Now, really, who am I trying to fool? My Judesie looks just as good in a 'tache as he does in a black wig. And Sally Potter's latest film RAGE, seeing as it is entirely (or as good as) made up of monologues set against monochrome backgrounds, gives plenty of opportunity to just sit back contemplate that exquisite beauty of Jude Law. He may be pretty, though unsympathetic, in Wilde (in which you just want to slap some sense into all the characters), shiny in AI and perfection in a waistcoat as the good Doctor in Sherlock Holmes, but what RAGE does so deliciously is take away everything until there's nothing but the script and the actor left through which to tell the story. At first it makes me think of Norma Desmond reminiscing of a time when they didn't need dialogue because they “had faces!” – because when there is nothing else you find yourself looking at every little nuance of the actor's facial expressions – until I realize that they're actually speaking as well, and a lot, albeit to an invisible and inaudible twelve year old boy with a mobile phone camera and, unbeknownst to the interviewees, a blog.


The characters are all in some way involved in an upcoming fashion show with creations designed by the artistic Merlin (a fictional Merlin, mind you, not the one from Bravo's The Fashion Show), for the launching of the company's new perfume, M. M is for what? Mystery, mothers, eventually turning into mortality, me, murder?

Here we meet everyone from the pizza boy turned model on a bike, the cynical fashion writer, the girl model (played by real life model Lily Cole), the war photographer, the invisible hem & zipper seamstress, the over educated marketing wonder boy intern, the PR man, the president of the old family company, the man who bought it (Eddie Izzard), his bodyguard &c &c. Despite never actually seeing what happens, we understand through the interviews that once the fashion show starts event suddenly take a tragic turn (and that one accident seldom comes alone.)

To some extent the characters all represent stereotypes, or archetypes, and are well aware of the role they play in this their corner of the fashion business. While many of them get to step outside their respective boxes, thanks to the sudden falling apart of their reality, certain characters seem more fixed: the infinitely puzzling African-American detective remains something of a caricature of someone I believe (being to young to knoe) you might have seen in a 70's movie, the Hispanic seamstress doesn't move far beyond the nurturing and motherly older Catholic lady, as distant from the world of business and marketing as is possible, and Boy Wonder keeps spitting out his new tag lines. This bothers me a bit – could these characters not have been taken in another direction, or a clearer direction? Does the seamstress with the accent and without the social benefits, the woman of the people, have to be the representation of nature, the good Christian, the one who prays more fervently instead of being bitter? And the detective; how ever did he fit into the picture? If anyone can explain that, I would be very curious to know.


Jude Law's character (who, according to an interview that I saw with Law, was apparently inspired in part by Leigh Bowery), on the other hand, is possibly the one who goes through the most blatant transformation. When we first make his acquaintance he is this mysterious androgynous creature, Minx, in a corset and a black wig, speaking with an Eastern European accent, but as the story moves on and his monologues become more personal this shift is made obvious by the replacement of the foreign accent with a regular Jude Law-ish British one. In one crucial scene, I think, the visually ever-changing, perfectly made-up Minx even does a Hedwig and appears – vulnerably – without a wig.


What, then, are they saying? There's all kinds of criticism: of consumerism, of marketing strategies, of capitalism, of a lack of humanity; and there's a fascination with new technology, with the shifting power structures when almost anyone, and the younger generations in particular, can express themselves (and in this specific case, post exposing videos of a the going-ons at a fashion house) through new mediums like the Internet. Sometimes I find myself thinking that what the characters are saying becomes a little cliché-like, considering there's not much that hasn't been said a million times before and that here there are no pretty grey London skies or dramatic soundtrack by Hans Zimmer to distract from the script.


Still, I love the form of the movie. The idea of monologues strikes me as absolutely delightful (I've had a soft spot for faux documentaries ever since I saw “Children of the Revolution” some ages ago), and turns out just so when combined with wonderful actors/actresses and a superb sense of colour (the scenes were shot against a green screen, and the colours we actually see have been sampled from something in the actors eyes, clothing &c). According to Sally Potter (who showed up for a Q&A session after the movie, as well as took part in a Master Class/Seminar interview in the Festival tent, which I incidentally attended and was quite smitten by) even the most experienced actors, like Jude Law & Judi Dench, were quite terrified of the nakedness of being practically alone with the camera (Sally & one other crew person, the actors themselves never met), which is quite easy to imagine. Either way, what came out of it is a joy to watch, because not only are the actors exposed to an extent where flaws would become easily visible – but you finally get a chance to see how good they really, really are.


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