Played at full tilt by co-screenwriter Heather Wahlquist, the pill-popping woman under the influence in Nick Cassavetes’ “Yellow” has to be the most well-toned, alluringly clad and catwalk-worthy substitute teacher in the history of cinema. But that’s hardly the chief absurdity of a prefab cult film wherein white-trash family members morph into farm animals at the dinner table, and Busby Berkeley-style musical numbers periodically take the place of don’t-snort-this-at-home realism. That these warped visions are apparently the product of a drug-addled noggin doesn’t make the pic any less tough to swallow (or market), and commercial prospects beyond VOD look iffy.
“Yellow” compels a certain train-wreck fascination at points, as when Wahlquist’s Mary, fired for boffing her student’s daddy in a broom closet on Parents’ Night, suddenly finds herself onstage in a moment that unavoidably recalls “Opening Night” by the director’s late father. Though Gena Rowlands turns up as Mary’s crabby Oklahoma grandma, the pic’s standout thesp is Melanie Griffith, who, as Mary’s mom, earns major points for playing the bent material more or less straight. “Mary Poppins”-style animation doesn’t sanitize the incest-laden pic so much as make it sicker.