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  • Writer's pictureBen Turner

The Skin Of The Teeth *

Starring: Pascal Arquimedes, Donal Brophy, Tom Rizzuto, Chuja Seo

Director: Matthew Wollin

Country: USA

It’s an everyday occurrence in Gay World. You meet a guy on a night out when really drunk, you go home with them but remember very little about it and then when you meet up with him again, you find out that maybe he wasn’t the man you hazily remember him being. In this new release from TLA, Josef (Arquimedes) arrives at John’s (Brophy) house for their first official date. There’s dinner, drinks and conversation is flowing until he finds that John is a little more into his narcotics than he is comfortable with, but when he brazenly takes a pill of which he has no knowledge, Alice takes the plunge straight down the rabbit hole for a night of surrealism where the lines between fantasy and reality barely even exist.

The director has clearly been watching a bit too much David Lynch, because in the sequences that follow there is subtle absurdity that passes unacknowledged, like police officers not wearing trousers and lawyers wearing cat masks. As Josef finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he watches in drug-induced apathy as he’s sexually assaulted by a female police officer who asserts that criminal suspects are her sexual fetish. It’s very unclear whether a crime has been committed or not, but as the straight-faced madness unfolds before him, the only clue we have as to its reality is the trance-like constant grin of Josef as he believes unquestioningly everything that he sees.

In isolation, some of these sequences contain some unsettling script and striking visuals, but tacked together in an attempt to make some semblance of plot and this is about as watchable as a toddler’s dance recital. It refuses to reveal whether there is any reality in what we’re seeing, so it becomes an endurance test of patience while it nods to Bunuel, Cocteau and Dali but we’re left looking at our watches. It starts off feeling like a thriller, but there’s nothing thrilling about watching Josef sitting through a performance show that is taking itself far too seriously. It becomes clear that we’re watching a university art showcase, where the art director’s brief was simple: just be strange. They do succeed, but get a D- for originality.

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