Inside/Out

Astarkly minimalist offering, "Inside/Out" is an ultra-slow-moving portrait of life inside and just outside a psychiatric institution, and it takes almost two hours to make the not-so-original point that the folks not locked up in the hospital are likely to be just as wacko as the straitjacket cases. American writer-director Rob Tregenza's third film is almost certainly too introverted even for the hard-core arthouse crowd, and most distribs will probably be scared off by the lethargic pacing. There is some interest in the film among industryites because legendary Gallic auteur Jean-Luc Godard was involved in the production, though he has had his name removed from the credits. The main character, a French artist named Jean Hammett (Frederic Pierrot), tries rather half-heartedly to escape from the asylum, but is easily roped back in by security. Monica Phillips (Berangere Allaux) becomes increasingly fascinated by Jean, though it is never made clear exactly why she is so enthralled with the taciturn fellow.

With:
Jean Hammett ..... Frederic Pierrot Grace Patterson ..... Stefania Rocca Monica Phillips ..... Berangere Allaux David Shepard ..... Tom Gilroy Eric Johnson ..... Mikkel Gaup Roger Freeman ..... Steven Watkins

There are all the usual asylum-pic shots, with patients lining up for their medicine, playing bingo and wandering aimlessly around the hospital grounds. In a parallel plot, a young priest, David Shepard (Tom Gilroy), who is a disturbed war veteran, is seen lusting after the church organist, Grace Patterson (Stefania Rocca), but she keeps rejecting his advances. There is also a fairly deranged local cop who keeps showing up and causing trouble. At one point, he gets into a shoving match with Jean.

There is little dialogue, and much of it is curiously muffled. Virtually every scene drags on way too long, with many consisting entirely of people staring intently at each other. The flimsy plot and absence of character development make it tough for the viewer to feel much sympathy for the highly alienated patients.

With so little talking, it is difficult for many of the thesps to distinguish themselves, though both Allaux and Rocca at least manage to convey some nonverbal intensity.

Tregenza’s self-consciously arty camerawork further detracts from the drama. Pic does have a suitably bleak, midwinter look. The score features a number of ethereal harp instrumentals.

Inside/Out

Production: A Parallel Pictures/Baltimore Film Factory production. (International sales: Ervin, Cohen, Jessup, Los Angeles.) Produced by J.K. Eareckson, Tom Garvin. Co-producer, Gill Holland. Directed, written, edited by Rob Tregenza

Crew: Camera (B&W), Tregenza; music, J.K. Eareckson, Mary Tregenza; costumes, Paula Stonestreet; sound, Francois Musy; associate producers, J.C. Davidson, Robert Sutton. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Un Certain Regard), May 8, 1997. Running time: 115 MIN.

With: Jean Hammett ..... Frederic Pierrot Grace Patterson ..... Stefania Rocca Monica Phillips ..... Berangere Allaux David Shepard ..... Tom Gilroy Eric Johnson ..... Mikkel Gaup Roger Freeman ..... Steven WatkinsDavid Roland Frank, Johanna Cox, Courtney Wilkenson, Jim Czarnecki, Brian Hemingson, David Beaudoin, Edgar Davis, Dominic Valentine, Branch Warfield.

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