Two Deaths (Nicolas Roeg)

Rating: *1/2 (out of ****)

A new cinematic genre appears to be developing -- let's call it the Obsessive Confessional. It involves a man (so far they've been men, but I expect a gender reversal soon) regaling one or more audience surrogates with a tale of "romantic" obsession; as he narrates a sordid story of humiliation, cruelty, warped desire, and disturbing mind games, the movie flashes back to depict the events in question, which generally involve the female protagonist exposing her breasts approximately every five to ten minutes. I can't say that I'm terribly excited about this new genre, which was inaugurated (so far as I know) with Roman Polanski's Bitter Moon, and now reaches what I dearly hope is its nadir in Nicolas Roeg's ugly, misogynistic, and laughably tedious Two Deaths. Unlike Bitter Moon, Two Deaths is clearly meant to be taken seriously (though I frankly don't believe Polanski's claim that the laughs elicited by his film were intended all along), but many people will likely find it difficult to suppress their laughter when they hear the utterly straight-faced and sober delivery of lines like "So I let a woman piss on me -- does that make you a better man?" Unfortunately, the picture isn't even fun on that campy level; Roeg invests the inherently silly proceedings with a solemnity that makes sniggering seem inappropriate, and it's hard to enjoy oneself when one is constantly being reminded that women are sexual demons who turn respectable men into pathetic victims of unrequited lust, forcing them to destroy themselves as well as the objects of their sick desire. What a splendid actor like Michael Gambon is doing in this wretched movie is beyond my comprehension. Trash.