Fear X

Fear X


Reviewed by: David Stanners

When Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (Bleeder, Pusher) teams up with Hubert Selby Jr. (Requiem For A Dream) and John Turturro (Barton Fink), you are assured of something off the beaten track. None like to toe the mainstream line and Refn's latest effort, although different in nature, continues to carry the independent baton.

Fear X is a slow-burning, noir-ish style murder mystery, with a twist of the surreal.

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John Turturro plays Harry, a security guard, tortured by his wife's murder and the need to find answers. Every day at work, he vigilantly scans the mall she was gunned down in, constantly searching for clues. By night, he tries to piece more of the puzzle together with videos and photographs of footage dug up by colleagues. Agonised by his loss, he eats, sleeps and breathes the past, dreaming and visualising his wife beside him.

Eventually, finding a lead, he takes off for Montana in the hope of justice and peace of mind. "I'm not a murderer," he repeats. All he wants is to know the who and the why. Tension builds slowly, as the jigsaw takes shape, remaining highly potent, threatening to explode.

Fraught and anxious, yet enigmatic, Turturro's performance is beautifully understated. Dark sombre eyes and deadpan looks convey the depth of his pain and feeling of loss. In supporting roles, William Allen Young, as Agent Lawrence, and Deborah Unger, as his wife, fill the screen with emotional depth, when required.

Refn is heavily influenced by the likes of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch. His style incorporates a surrealist edge, particularly in the hotel scenes, which are uncannily close to those in The Shining - he uses Kubrick's cinematographer. While the symbolic elements add an unhinged quality to the piece, reflecting the twisted torment of Harry's mind, their use can be slightly heavy handed at times.

This is an ambitious change of direction for Refn. After gritty films, such as Pusher and Bleeder, Fear X opens a new door, showing maturity, versatility and subtlety in his work.

Reviewed on: 16 Aug 2003
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A dark noir-ish mystery about a man looking for his wife's killer.
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Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Writer: Nicolas Winding Refn, Hubert Selby Jr

Starring: John Turturro, Deborah Unger, James Remar, Stephen McIntyre, William Allen Young, Gene Davis, Mark Houghton, Jacqueline Ramel, Liv Corfixen, Nadia Litz

Year: 2002

Runtime: 91 minutes

Country: Denmark/UK


EIFF 2003

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