While there are only a couple of people who can claim David Lynch as a parent, there are many more filmmakers who can lay claim to him as father. Thankfully, writer/director Mari Kornhauser has absorbed more than some dark lighting and the occasional dwarf.
Life has been better for Marie (Katharina Wressing). On the downside, she’s so paralyzed by agoraphobia following a violent rape, she’s too terrified to leave the house inherited from her father. On the upside, her new housemate, Tom (Peter Sarsgaard), is a mysterious gourmet chef committed to bringing her back into the world. …but on the downside he might be a serial killer. What are you going to do?
A studio could have easily turned this into a comedy, but Kornhauser has other ideas. Marie faces an emotional isolation that’s common, at least in Los Angeles. In her fragile state, her support system comes up short. With Parents dead; her boyfriend, sister, and friends can’t look past their own self-interest to provide the help she needs. Her only constant is the house. It’s the only thing that’s always there for her; a sanctuary she never leaves.
Tom seems much like Marie. A lonely, isolated stranger, he, too, needs a sanctuary. Regardless of what he may be outside, Marie’s home is the one place he can feel comfortable enough to open up. As such, he becomes the only one to really recognize Marie’s pain and address it. She may be helping him, but to the end, it’s hard to say. Tom never reveals as much as Marie does.
As another first-time director, Kornhauser makes mistakes. There’s a little excess style, including title sequences representing increasingly obscure holidays. The pace is a little slow and the ending could be clearer. I’d rather commend her, though, for expressing some unfashionable compassion of a tale that demonstrates that two people, no matter how screwed up, can help each other if they open themselves up.
Posted on March 28, 2000 in Reviews by Ron Wells
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