October 11, 2005

Twist of Faith / Idiot Love

Reviewed by Martin Tsai at the 24th Vancouver International Film Festival

Kirby Dick’s Oscar-nominated documentary Twist of Faith follows the journey of a man suddenly confronted with the sexual abuse in his past upon discovering that his predator lives five doors down the street from the newly purchased family home. Toledo, Ohio firefighter Tony Comes seemingly has the perfect all-American family life. But whether he is sharing physical intimacy with his wife or potty-training his infant son, his boyhood trauma still fills his life with anxiety. When the Boston priesthood abuses make national headlines, Comes contacts his local bishop about the alleged rape by ex-priest Dennis Gray. But the church responds with only denial and deceit, prompting Comes’s pent-up rage to slowly exact a toll on both his own spirituality and the life of his family. With the subjects given cameras to document themselves, the film provides incredible access into their emotional lives. But when its deceptively innocuous early vignettes ultimately turn out to be foreshadowing, the film’s epilogue is so inexplicably chilling that it warrants follow-up investigation.

Perhaps trying to shake off the heavy Almodóvar influence in his work, Ventura Pons this time looks to Lars von Trier for Idiot Love. Obviously, its chief influence is the Danish provocateur’s Dogme exemplar The Idiots. Self-proclaimed idiot Pere-Lluc (Santi Millán) has no qualms whipping his penis out at his godfather’s birthday party so he can threaten to stick a fork in it, and it comes as no surprise that he suddenly feels compelled to stalk and break into the home of married street-banner installer Sandra (Cayetana Guillén Cuervo) after accidentally walking into her ladder one night. In spite of all its gratuitous nudity, graphic sex and City of God-esque rapid camera zooms and pans, the insufferably self-aggrandizing first-person narration over the prolonged classical-music-punctuated montages suck all the potential fun out of Idiot Love. With no philosophical insight to speak of, Me and You and Everyone We Know it is most certainly not.

© Copyright 2005 Martin Tsai. All rights reserved.