Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Three Slaves Dancing

Three Slaves Dancing (2004) tells the story of three brothers who are struggling to deal with their mothers' recent death. The hyper-sexualized, fleshy atmosphere in which the story takes place is hypnotic and gorgeous, but, unfortunately, also a little stilted. At times, the visual artifice can make it seem that the film is depicting--not so much a relationship between three brothers--but a fantasy about brotherhood. The film's images are a little too composed, a little too perfect--gorgeous faces and bodies cavorting in beautiful French lake country--all photographed with a care that can be excessive.

The narrative, on the other hand, has an admirable sense of meandering independence. The writer-director's willingness to relinquish control over the story's direction allows his characters breathing room and a chance to develop some compelling autonomy, but, at times, this same detachment can create a sense of vagueness and inconsequentiality. Issues of homosexuality and race are represented with straightforwardness, frankness and complexity, which is admirable, but in the end, the events in the film never really seem to amount to much. Everything seems to be in the right place, but somehow the film's heart isn't ticking.

A word of warning: there is an upsetting and traumatic dog death. Scenes of row after row of ham hocks in a packing plant where one of the brothers works may disturb some vegetarians.

FilmStock Rating: C


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