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Lunacy (Unrated)

Release Date: June 9th, 2006 (Film Forum) by Zeitgeist Films.
The Cast: Pavel Liska, Jan Triska, Anna Geislerová, Jaroslav Dusek, Martin Huba, Pavel Nový, Stano Danciak, Jirí Krytinár, Jan Svankmajer. Directed by Jan Svankmajer.
In Czech with subtitles.

BASIC PREMISE: Jean (Liska), an asylum patient, befriends the Marquis (Triska) which leads him to discover a dark secret about the asylum.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Combining horror, comedy, drama and absurdity has rarely been so much fun. Just like writer/director Jan Svankmajer’s last movie, Little Otik, Lunacy has a thin plot that gets increasingly absurd as it progresses. In the first scene, the director comes onscreen to preface the film to somewhat prepare you for what you’re about to see. He appropriately informs you that this film will be “an infantile tribute to Edgar Allan Poe”. Jan Triska gives a terrifically stylized performance in the complex role of the sadistic Marquis who allows the asylum patients run amok throughout the asylum. Many scenes will disgust the average moviegoer, especially vegetarians. Without giving away too much of the surprises, there are plenty of animate—yes, animate— body organs and raw meat peppered in between scenes including tongues, eyeballs and brains. Much of the humor is dark, sick and just plain twisted—especially during a bizarre orgy scene. What makes Lunacy so engaging to watch though is that every scene is richly textured with lively visuals, even in the background. Had director Svankmajer used a more conventional approach to directing this film, it would have been boring, predictable and dull. Fortunately, not a single bizarre scene drags from start to finish.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: To add to the bizarreness, Lunacy actually has a depressing yet thought-provoking commentary about modern life. Basically, it suggests that there are two basic forms of mental institutions: one where the patients have freedom and one where they must abide by strict rules. Then, there’s also a third form which combines the worst aspects of the two: modern life.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief.


IN A NUTSHELL: A celebration of life at its craziest form. Profoundly absurd and visually delightful. A guilty pleasure.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run)

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