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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Images (1972)

The author (Susannah York) of children's books appears to be schizophrenic as she is unable to decipher reality from the hallucinations she sees and the voices in her head. The madness accelerates when she and her husband (Rene Auberjonois) go to their secluded country cottage. Heavily influenced by Polanski's REPULSION, Robert Altman's film (based on his original screenplay) is an unsettling puzzle that either works for you or it doesn't. It worked for me. Aided by his cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond's suggestive camera work and John Williams' Oscar nominated atonal score, Altman whips up a genuinely creepy atmosphere where York (who won best actress at the Cannes film festival for her performance here) straddles the thin line between sanity and lunacy. Altman's script has all the actors (there are five) using the first name of another cast member. Thus York is Cathryn, Cathryn Harrison (Rex's granddaughter) is Susannah, Rene Auberjonois is Hugh, Hugh Millais is Marcel, Marcel Bozzuffi is Rene. The males are often interchanged, who York sees isn't necessarily who is there and there's a suggestion that the child Harrison plays may be a younger version of York. It does sound a bit pretentious, doesn't it? But really, it doesn't play out that way. A far better effort in the "unhinged heroine" genre than Altman's previous effort THAT COLD DAY IN THE PARK.

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