Maverick helmer Abel Ferrara returns to the mood and, to some extent, the theme of his controversial cult item Bad Lieutenant, also toplining Harvey Keitel. Perfs, as usually in Ferrara’s movies, are powerful but, despite the presence of Madonna, Dangerous Game is another abrasive, confrontational downer.
Pic opens in wintry New York, as filmmaker Eddie Israel (Keitel) leaves his wife (Nancy Ferrara, helmer’s spouse) and small son to fly to the Coast to work on a new movie, Mother of Mirrors, starring actors Sarah Jennings (Madonna) and Francis Burns (James Russo) as a couple whose marriage is disintegrating. Jennings’ character, Claire, has found religion and wants to halt a destructive lifestyle of booze, drugs and sexual experimentation. Burns’ character, Russell, rejects her change of attitude angrily and with increasing violence.
Regular Ferrara scripter Nicholas St. John has devised a screenplay in which the stresses of filming spill into private lives. As filming nears its close, the director finds his personal traumas intruding more and more into the fictional material.
Dangerous Game is raw, intense material, with an aura of authenticity. But despite extensive four-letter dialogue, pic plays down the sexual content, and Madonna remains clothed almost throughout. Keitel again proves he’s one of the finest actors around.
[Pic was world preemed at the 1993 Venice fest under the title Snake Eyes. Release title was subsequently changed, for copyright reasons.]