Thursday, October 13, 2011

Film Review--Altered States


Starring William Hurt, Blair Brown, Bob Balaban, Charles Haid, and Coolio as The Beav.

A Harvard scientist (Hurt) begins to experiment upon himself.  We’ve never seen that go wrong now have we?

With the aid of mind-altering drugs and a sensory deprivation chamber, he begins to seek out other states of consciousness.  What ends up happening is a complete evolutionary regression.

This ended up being so much more than the “mad scientist” movie that I had expected.  There is the additional dimension of the main character seeking out the very nature of consciousness and thereby he is seeking the truth of God.  The film is crammed with religious imagery that signifies this fact.  Given that there are drugs involved, things take a turn for the psychedelic, the abstract, and the artfully non-sequitor, giving the film a wonderfully disjointed look at times.  This film had me the whole way, especially the scene where Hurt, now a protean form of human, is loose in the university lab and causing mayhem.  On a more human level, the married couple patter between Hurt and Brown is very realistic, adding yet another dimension to the film.  Yes, had me the whole way…until the end.  I know that there are film mavens who dig the ending but I was left feeling unimpressed.  It simply…ends.  I know that may be the point but it still has an unsatisfactory aftertaste.  Still, that’s my one and only complaint.  My God, the questions raised alone make this worth viewing.  This film is a gem and one we will never see the likes of again with a Hollywood churn-em-out mill running at full bore (and I do mean bore.)  I could end up owning this one happily.
Watch for a cameo by John Larroquette as an X-ray technician and a baby Drew Barrymore.  Also note the cave art in the Mexican locale.  Greys??

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