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LULU ON THE BRIDGE

USA, 1998 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Paul Auster

After surviving a near-fatal shooting, jazz saxophonist Izzy Maurer (Harvey Keitel) stumbles across the body of a stranger in tower Manhattan and winds up with the dead man's briefcase. Inside he finds a mysterious stone and a phone number which leads him to Celia Bums (Mira Sorvino), a young actress who has been cast as Lulu in a remake of Georg Pabst's Pandora's Box. Under the magical influence of the stone, Izzy and Celia fall deeply in love. After Celia leaves for filming, Izzy is abducted and interrogated by the sinister anthropologist Dr Van Hom (Willem Dafoe), and the film swerves into a Kafkaesque ordeal with Izzy's soul at stake.

Lulu on the Bridge is Paul Auster's solo directorial debut after a number of first class screen collaborations. His screenplay weaves a multitude of ideas and moods into a wonderfully coherent whole. The film is a complex tale of the relationship between two lonely individuals caught in a world where intimacy and connection are forsaken for the burdens of ambition and career. Harvey Keilei delivers his usual tremendous and offbeat characterisation with Izzy Maurer, a role imbued with compassion and authenticity. Rising star Mira Sorvino (Mimic) compliments Keitel with a youthful spontaneity andl energy, while Willem Dafoe skilfully counterpoints her optimism with reserve and overshadowing mystery. These three leads combine to suspend disbelief and portray a world with dark and conspiratorial undertones. Lulu on the Bridge is ample evidence of a master literary storyteller making a smooth transition to the screen.

Paul Auster was born in 1947 in New Jersey. He wrote the screenplay for Music of Chance (1993) which he also co-directed. Later Auster applied the same skills to Smoke (1995), and co-directed the charming sequel-of-sorts Blue in the Face (1995).

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