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REVIEW – White of the Eye (1987)

March 27, 2014

WhiteoftheEyeFilmJuice have my review of Donald Cammell’s thriller White of the Eye.

Donald Cammell is arguably best known for his first film Performance in which an east end geezer moves in with a jaded rock star and loses his values and identity in a world of sex, drugs and faded Edwardian interiors. Set in small town Arizona, White of the Eye could not be more different in so far as it conceals its artistic intentions beneath a thick genre glaze. The glaze in question is that a serial killer is moving from house to house murdering wealthy attractive women. Hired by the husbands of wealthy attractive women to install expensive sound systems, the film’s protagonist is sucked into the investigation despite his claims of innocent. Rather than following this narrative line in a conventional manner, Cammell slows things down to a crawl and begins to explore the protagonist’s history and relationships in exquisitely stylised detail:

Cammell’s film opens on a montage that feels like a dozen 1980s music videos crammed into a pot and reduced down to an inky sludge. Hints of ZZ Top collide with notes of Duran Duran as red wine splashes across tiles, blood arcs through the air and eyes are drawn to stocking-clad legs, pastel interiors and improbably geometric patterns. If, as Marianne Faithful once said, Performance took 1960s Chelsea and placed it under glass, White of the Eye takes the surface gloss of 1980s MTV and turns it into a living, breathing, bleeding world.

While the film itself is pretty damn fine, I was amused by the fact that the documentary included on the disc about Cammell made him seem like a complete and utter cock as it spends well over an hour talking about how much he enjoyed hanging about with aristocrats having loads of sex and taking loads of drugs. I appreciate that this might well have seemed incredibly transgressive and important to people in the 1960s but nowadays it just sounds like the Bullingdon club on spring break.

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