This noir-referencing drama from Brit digi-alchemist Mike Figgis is a didactic and haughty bore.
A film about film students that feels like it was made by film students and for film students. British mutli-hyphenate Mike Figgis is starting to cut an ever more lonely figure on the feature film landscape, churning our arty, low budget doodles which all seem destined to float unnoticed into the cinephilic ether.
With its flashing blue and red intertitles, film-within-film structure and toe-tapping jazz score, the wannabe puckish Suspension of Disbelief is clearly in thrall to the work of Jean-Luc Godard. Though this is a limp, depoliticised imitation of French new wave tropes which may have hit home a little more cleanly if Figgis didn't have so much contempt for his audience, whoever that may be. This is a dry lecture as much as a hamfisted drama.
So there's the central (knowingly hackneyed) plotline involving an angst-ridden film studies scholar and screenwriter played by Sebastian Koch who is drawn into a indeterminate murder plot involving a young actress and the sudden appearance of her identical twin. And then we see s film being made by arrogant students based on the script he's writing during these strange times.
Everything is delivered in giant quotation marks, meaning Figgis never manages to muster even a frame of sincere drama from this meta-mulch. The FinalCut special effects palette is also given an unnecessary runout, with random transitions, filters and gauzes employed for no particular reason. Nothing is left open to interpretation, or if it is, we're instantly reminded that this moment has been left open to interpretation, lest we were to rashly dismiss it as being garbled nonsense. Rarely has an intended auto-critique come across as such an act of intellectual self-love.
Sure, this is no-fi, on-the-lam filmmaking, and clearly proud of it. Yet, there's no excuse for some of the slipshod technical work on display here, the worst offence being an extremely odd moment where a young girl is being filmed while taking a bath and the frame judders in a manner which suggests the camera operator sneezed half way through the scene. It's digital! Do another take! Or, is this happenstance technical blemish meant to be there, to alert the viewer of the artificial nature of film? Either way, it's fabulously annoying.
Could this one-time Brit contender deliver the goods once more?
Alas, not this time. Figgis has made this film to be enjoyed by himself and no-one else.
Hard to decipher whether this is a controlled abstract narrative or just highfalutin, garbled nonsense. Probably the latter.