Cactus (1986) from Tuna and Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
comments in white:
Cactus (1998) is a Paul Cox film about a French woman, Isabelle Huppert, who has left her husband and is visiting Australia. She has some undisclosed traffic accident where she loses the use of her left eye. When her right eye starts shutting down in some sympathetic reaction, she is told that she must have the left eye removed to save any sight in her right eye. She is introduced to a blind man, Robert Menzies, and learns from him other ways to "see." They become intimate. That is pretty much the plot.
There are two impossibly dark love
scenes between them, and some breast, buns and bush exposure of her
standing in front of a window. The film opens with 4 minutes of
a slow pan of an Australian garden, and overly-loud bird calls, with
some sacred music in the background. Roger Ebert, in awarding 3 stars,
points out (correctly) that Paul Cox films are always about
male/female relationships between unusual people. He seems to
understand the film, and talks about the loudness of the bird calls
showing, right from the start, how other senses become keener as you
lose your sight. He found the choice she had to make over surgery to
be distracting from what he thought the film was about.
| I didn't understand
the film at all.
comments in yellow:
I agree completely with everything Tuna said, except that I think he worded his criticisms much too diplomatically. For instance, he said "Huppert's French accent was distracting". That is really euphemistic. There have been other films where her accent was distracting, like Heaven's Gate, but in this film it was clear that she had no idea how to deliver the lines in English. I assume they told her what the lines mean in French, and then she said them phonetically, trying for the same inflection she would have used in French. Or something like that. Whatever the explanation, the woman had no clue.
And as to Tuna's point that he had trouble staying awake, he wasn't being diplomatic, but downright charitable. This thing makes La Belle Noiseuse seem like an action film. Bring out Joanne Worley for a big "Bor-r-r-r-ing".
As to the plot, it was all laid out in the first minute or so. She has to choose whether to have the operation or not. We know she will. Nobody is really going to choose darkness. No sane blind lover would say "yes, be blind, like me. The world is better that way." We know she'll agonize over the decision, but we also know what she has to do. So, in effect, there is no plot after the car accident, and that happens in the opening credits. After that, it's 90 minutes of sensitive characterization, pretty pictures, and pretty sounds. The only remaining question is whether she'll go back to her husband, but since we get to know the blind guy, and the husband is an anonymous pen pal, I think we can also dupe that one out pretty well.
|Since the film has so
many extreme strengths and extreme weaknesses, make your call about
whether to see this film based on what's important to you. here's my
I'd like to rate it below C-, because it is so damned boring, but I can't because it looks and sounds so good. I agree with Tuna's C-, but would raise it to a C with a DVD transfer which would allow us to see the beautiful cinematography in a properly mastered widescreen version.
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