Nov 15, 2007

Clean, Shaven

After viewing Clean, Shaven, the 1993 film directed by Lodge Kerrigan, I found myself concluding a psychological experience of abstraction. Like Harmony Korine’s Julien Donkey-boy, Clean, Shaven realizes a more honest view of schizophrenia. Hollywood has given us soft and friendly views via Ronald Howard’s A Beautiful Mind. Clean, Shaven pertains to viewers interested in a film that doesn’t distance the viewer from the pain of the schizophrenic. This lack of distancing from the viewer and the general subject of schizophrenia, accomplishes more in film and viewer interaction.

Kerrigan unquestionably took cues from David Lynch with his utilization of ambient sound and its interaction with image. Sound plays a very significant part in the films success of creating a world of delusion, confusion and paranoia. Many scenes rely on auditory dissonance with a combination of noir style lighting and small town decay. These three things set the emotional atmosphere for the film.

Instead of relying on quick-cuts often found in most contemporary films to create emotion, Clean, Shaven’s obsession of the shot creates a world of unrelenting experience. The viewer is forced and driven into mandatory pain. By not giving into quick-cuts, the film traps the viewer in the moment. Quick-cuts allow the viewers to be aware of what they are supposed to feel emotionally but fall short of doing it naturally.

For fans of gore and body counts, Clean, Shaven also takes the unconventional route. The film contains such scenes as the body of a naked, rotted little girl and fingernail amputation. Both scenes are presented to the audience in precise detail and virtual authenticity. Even the most seasoned exploitation fans might find themselves unable to deal with these realistic scenarios of depravation.

No task of the schizophrenic protagonist seems to be simple in Clean, Shaven. As the viewer, you also find yourself subject to these mental inconsistencies. Nothing ever seems to be in place and every moment seems to be unpredictable. Although the film has a consistent plot, the real reward lies in the experience. You won’t find yourself much different in the end.
I believe Clean, Shaven to be a worthy experience for anyone interested in looking into the mind of a schizophrenic. At the end of the film you will be more engrossed than entertained. Good films do that for us. Clean, Shaven is evidence that you don’t have to settle for a happy schizophrenic. They aren’t fun anyways.

-Ty E

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