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And Now Ladies and Gentlemen
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by Greg Muskewitz

"The unstable terrain of mental deterioration."
4 stars

Jeremy Irons is a con artist, specifically, a jewel thief. We see him smooth-talking a jewelry store owner, telling him that he is an undercover police officer and that in setting a trap for a vicious criminal who will be robbing their store, not to worry as they will be waiting outside for the bust, rocket-launcher and everything pointed at the shop in anticipation.

Later that day, Irons returns, in prosthetic make up (though honestly, it wouldn’t fool anyone) to swindle the overly sang-froid store owners out of priceless jewelry as they confidently await the bust. He walks away, and obviously, nothing happens. Following another heist, this time with the help of a young woman who worked at the shop, he begins to mentally fatigue and using some of the money he’s made to buy a boat, decides to sail off alone. However, his illness kicks in at sea, and he’s forced to dock someplace he doesn’t know and receive treatment from people he doesn’t know, when he is not completely sure of who he is. In passing, he meets a piano bar chanteuse who appears to be afflicted by the same disorder. Played by a real French chanteuse, Patricia Kaas has come to Morocco to flee a failed relationship. Soon, they are put together, and he scares off some riffraff following her in the streets, creating an amorphous bond between them. As neither one is fully aware of their realities and their mental disillusions (blackouts broken down for us by a draining gray color scheme), they come to rely on one another to sift through what they have or are doing, or what they haven’t. Additional complications arise when a hotel guest has her room vault broken into, leading police to pursue Irons once his identity is established, but further twisted since he cannot remember whether he did it in the first place.

Lelouch, though assuring he doesn’t fully lose his audience by the convolutions of the mind, still actively takes part in putting up a fog screen as to avoid total comprehension. He masks the film in confused fantasy sequences, but as more of them begin to play out, it becomes increasingly obvious that they are not reality. Irons begins to cope with his wrongs and yearns to make them right by recompensing his victims. But each time, there is still a moment before discerning if it’s real or not that the viewer cannot jump to conclusions. Mental instability is equally a shaky exploration in film as with the reliance on dreams, inasmuch as most filmmakers use it to weasel their way out of implausible predicaments. The feeling gained from this is not that Lelouch is trying to trick anyone, or pull a fast switcheroo. He is genuinely intrigued by the possibilities of two lost souls and deteriorating minds to lean on each other in search of survival. At times, it does take a stretch of the imagination to go along with certain plot developments, and there are other pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that never properly align (Irons’ girlfriend’s trajectory), but the film is able to bridge over those difficulties almost like the two main characters must forge on to reach their final destinations. It still remains, however, that And Now’s tricksiness is more than Brian DePalma could have ever dreamed of with Femme Fatale. Other bridging assistance comes from the confident and solid photography of Pierre William Glenn, the haunting melancholy from Kaas’ songs, as well as her impressive acting debut, and Irons’ worldly performance, destined at times to drop for pathos, but managing each time to get back up and move forward.


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originally posted: 12/28/03 23:08:07
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User Comments

8/22/03 Shira Makes no enjoyable as a root canal 1 stars
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  01-Aug-2003 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Jan-2004



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