Creepy without being grab-your-date scary, pic about two bald look-alike artists in an abandoned dance hall is for those who like their horror coldly cerebral. Almost the definition of an art film, "Ballroom" may prove too rarefied for theatrical pickup, though tube sales seem likely.

Creepy without being grab-your-date scary, pic about two bald look-alike artists in an abandoned dance hall is for those who like their horror coldly cerebral. This highly conceptual tale of doppelgangers and parallel universes, out of Polanski’s “Tenant” via Kubrick’s “The Shining,” exerts a certain hypnotic fascination. Almost the definition of an art film, “Ballroom” may prove too rarefied for theatrical pickup, though tube sales seem likely.

Complementary gay artists, wordsmith Patrick and imagist Rene, love and work in relative harmony until Rene starts having vague hallucinations around an old photograph of two American comics in drag. When Patrick leaves for a few weeks, Rene’s visions change. Suddenly, there is only one figure, a simpleton in bow and pinafore with an idiot’s beatific grin and with Rene’s face and form. Ultimately, pic’s hall of mirrors might be more fun to talk about than to sit through (pic won the press prize at recent Paris Rencontres fest). Excellent DV lensing limns a daylight beach, a nighttime amusement park and the polished surfaces of a studio/ballroom with equal hard-edged clarity.

Ballroom

France

Production

An Ex Nihilo production in association with Arte France/Mikros Image. Produced by Patrick Sobelman. Directed by Patrick Mario Bernard, Xavier Brillat, Pierre Trividic. Screenplay, Trividic, Bernard.

Crew

Camera (color, DV-to-35mm), Brillat, Emmanuel Caula; editor, Stephane Huter; music, Gerard Griseycostume designer, Bernard, Florence Vax. Reviewed at Tribeca Film Festival (competing), April 23, 2003. Running time: 96 MIN. With Patrick Mario Bernard, Pierre Trividic, Peter Bonke, Jean-Yves Jouannais.
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