“My Life as Abraham Lincoln” unfolds in a dream state, a slippery, surreal stream-of-consciousness where past and present coexist, and the same figures return in different guises. Blending experimental film and black comedy, Shari Berman’s first feature concerns thirtysomething Cindy (Caroline Luft), making dissociated stabs at normality after having pushed her bridegroom, in anger or kidding affection, off a roof to his death. Luft grounds the film with an insistently believable performance, while other thesps float in and out of cliche. Opened Sept. 28 at Gotham’s Cinema Village, this curio marks a promising if marginal directorial bow.Cindy’s conflict between social expectations and her various mental escapes from conventionality manifest themselves stylistically, as the pic sometimes slips into black-and-white film noir or title-carded silence. Her metaphysical confusion takes the form of complicity with a younger blonde self and a Bergmanesque “Persona” pastiche, complete with Swedish subtitles. Attempts to stabilize herself, as when she tries to write a murder mystery, backfire in surreal fashion. Lenser Chris Benker impressively controls light, color and composition, allowing this low-budgeter to convincingly morph between alternate realities.
A Four Reel Films release of a Saberman … Too production. Produced, directed, written, edited by Shari Berman.
Camera (color/B&W, HD), Chris Benker; music, Ken Lampl. Reviewed on DVD, New York, Sept. 28, 2012. Running time: 82 MIN.
Caroline Luft, Gerry Birnbach, Jennifer Lynn Malloy, Trevor Nelson, Brandon De Spain, Leisha Shorey, Wendy Taylor.