Monday, May 31, 2010

Greek film noir pastiche Singapore Sling

Well, to call Singapore Sling a pastiche is a weird way to put it. Certainly, there's a lot of pastiche and parody of film noir in Singapore Sling, but it's a very far cry from your usual neo-noir. Singapore Sling is a disturbing stageplay of great perversity.

Directed by Nikos Nikolaidis, Singapore Sling starts with two women dressep up in sexy lingerie digging a grave and burying a man in there. It rains heavily down on this grim scene. It actually rains almost all the time through the film - one of the film noir touches in the film, an obvious allusion to The Big Sleep. These two women are a mother and a daughter living alone in a big mansion, talking about the killing of someone called Laura, a mysterious young woman who showed up in their house one stormy night. They restage the scene of killing her from time to time, as a foreplay to sex between them. From this point on, you know this film is not for everybody.

There's also a private eye (or a cop, it's never fully explained) who's looking for the same young woman, Laura (another illusion, this time to Vera Caspary's novel and Otto Preminger's film). The film uses a flashback technique to explain what has happened to the private eye, but everything is not fully out in the open. It's possible that Laura was a false identity to the young woman and she used it to escape the law - she seems to have killed someone. The private eye comes to the women's house, wounded from a gun shot, and is instantly taken into the weird sex roleplays the mother and daughter engage themselves in. There's a lot of bondage, whipping, vomiting, peeing and such in the film, and it's not very pleasant to watch, even though it's done with style, with a great detail in the costumes and such. The film is often quite funny, though, so it's not only disturbing. There's also less gore than one might imagine. Weird thing is that the private eye's private parts are never shown, even though the director doesn't shy away from showing a mother whipping her own daughter or the mummified father having sex with the same daughter.

There's just that the film seems a bit empty in retrospect. What's it about? What is the director trying to tell us? There are quite a lot of metanarrational techniques in the screenplay, and it's clear not everything we are shown really happens, but in the end the film seems just another postmodern pastiche ripe with empty irony.

Singapore Sling came out in 1990 and won some awards at film festivals, mainly for its direction and photography, which are very stylish. Then the film became more obscure and it vanished from sight, to be released on DVD in 2009.

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