Tuesday, August 4, 2009



Friday night at MIFF and I was booked for two movies. The first was WHITE LIGHTNIN', described by Vanity Fair as "A white-trash psychobilly nightmare with midnight movie appeal". Fucking sign me up!

Inspired by the life of the "Dancing Outlaw", Jesco White, WHITE LIGHTNIN' chronicles his life and drug addiction in West Virginia.

The film goes through Jesco's childhood as he huffs gas and lighter fluid, and moves onto harder drugs, before becoming increasingly violent and sporadic and being moved to a number of institutions and psychiatric health clinics.

After getting (relatively) straightened out, Jesco decides to become a dancer, like his father, and whilst on tour, meets his future wife, 'Cilla (Carrie Fischer), before taking a very, VERY dark turn later in the film.

At first, I found the film slightly off-putting for its sporadic and episodic nature, but as I eased into it, I actually found this one of the films appealing aspects. While extremely dark, the film is also incredibly funny, due largely to Edward Hogg's largely unsettling and laconic performance and voice-over as Jesco. His southern drawl and dangerous eyes are provocative and mesmerising.

White Lightnin' is a film that benefits from only a brief description of the films wild content, and much credit must go to the writing team of Eddie Moretti and Shane Smith, whose first screenplay is at turns dazzling, hilarious, depressing and gripping. They create a sympathetic and whole portrait of all the characters involved, whilst never softening the edges or pulling any punches.

First-time director Dominic Murphy gets the most from all performers, with no one hitting a false note throughout the entire film, and manages to perfectly balance the films ofter incongruous tone into something palatable and fascinating at every turn.

While Edward Hogg's winning performance should rightfully garner much praise, the most surprising aspect of this film was Carrie Fisher, who's soulful and broad interpretation of 'Cilla is possibly the finest performance of her entire career. She is fucking wonderful!

This is a film that never outstays its welcome, is close to perfect in almost every respect, and is one which I can't wait to watch again and again. If every other film I saw at the festival didn't live up to this, which I'm expecting them not to, it would still be a satisfying experience.


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