BRUISER ** France / Canada / USA 2000 Dir: George A Romero. 99 mins
Romero’s only non-zombie movie after THE DARK HALF – another horror story about identity loss – was this heavy handed contemporary satire partially salvaged by a strong, rare leading performance from Jason Flemyng. He’s the downtrodden, young executive of a publicity agency leading a miserable existence only brightened by fantasies about murdering fellow passengers during his numbing morning commute.
His colleagues are obnoxious (“If I could fuck a car, I’d never leave my garage”), his shallow, unfaithful long-term girlfriend resents him (“I’ve fucked my way to the bottom”) and he only gets an opportunity to fulfil his repressed fantasies and desires when he wakes up one morning literally faceless. Flemyng transforms into a kind of inverted superhero in this unsubtle puncturing of the privileged and the shallow, punishing those who drained him of happiness and personality. He’s very good, but everything else about the movie is cold and uninvolving: the secondary characters are meant to be repellent, but Peter Stormare’s unrestrained, in-your-face portrayal of Flemyng’s racist, coke-snorting boss becomes merely irritating. Tom Atkins is a welcome presence as a cynical detective, but by the time he appears the film has lost its way courtesy of its uninvolving narrative trajectory and obnoxious characters. Little actual horror, though you do get an appearance by The Misfits (who sang the title song) as themselves. One of Romero’s boldest films in many respects, but also among his least enjoyable.
Review by Steven West