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Belladonna

USA (MIFF 1991, New York Experimental)

Director: Beth B, Ida Applebroog

A number of sombre talking heads frankly describe their most personal and perverse attitudes on sex, violence, and other family matters. This is fiction, based on documentary material, that looks like an experimental film. The actors are reciting lines from horrifying, but authentic, texts by (and about) three well-known male figures. - Elizabeth Hess

Belladonna's premise is derived from Freud's classic text on sadomasochism, "A Child Is Being Beaten." However, it revises Freud's Oedipal interpretation to focus on the child's rage at the power of the mother. Some 20 actors are filmed in dramatically lit close-up addressing the camera. The test, randomly recorded and broken up among the performers, momentarily comes together - makes a kind of grotesque sense - then disintegrates into chaos by the end. - Amy Taubin

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