“ Genre: Crime & Thriller - Thriller / Theatrical Release: 1995 / Director: Lodge Kerrigan / Actors: Peter Greene, Alice Levitt ... / DVD released 17 October, 2006 at Criterion / Features of the DVD: Colour, Dolby, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC „
* Prices may differ from that shown
RELEASED: 1993, Cert.18
RUNNING TIME: Approx. 80 mins
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER: /SCREENPLAY: Lodge Kerrigan
MUSIC: Hahn Rowe
Peter Greene as Peter Winter
Megan Owen as Mrs Winter
Jennifer MacDonald as Nicole
Robert Albert as Jack McNally
FILM ONLY REVIEW
The film opens and we see schizophrenic Peter Winter sitting on his psychiatric hospital bed, obviously deeply disturbed by what is going on inside of his mind.
We then see Peter walking away from the hospital towards his clapped-out old car, where a little girl is playing nearby. The little girl accidentally kicks a ball towards Peter's car, and with a resounding crash (which Peter in his head hears far more loudly than it would come across to most people) it hits one of his wing mirrors. Peter is both livid and very scared, getting out of his car to confront the child....then the next thing we know, she is dead.
While the police, particularly Jack McNally, work on the little girl's murder case, Peter - amidst a maelstrom of delusory hallucinations emanating from his mind - drives to his old home town with the intention of finding his small daughter, who had been adopted when he was hospitalised and his wife had died.
On reaching his home town, Peter spends a night with his mother, which is a very difficult experience for both of them.
Meanwhile, the demons continue to play havoc with Peter's sensibilities, as the search hots up for the child killer.
Clean, Shaven is an art noir sort of production, which I guess may have been filmed on quite a low budget.
Right from the beginning, the mood is what I can only call quietly dark, yet not in the same way that a psychological thriller might be. This is a journey inside of a man's tortured mind, and it is the viewer's job to work out whether he at the end of the day is the good guy or the bad guy.
The sound effects of the constant white noise, voices, various pops, clicks, whistles and crackles which invade Peter's mind are put across so very well. I'd imagine it is almost impossible to truly and accurately convey the reality of the goings on inside of a full-blown schizophrenic's head, but this film I believe at least comes very close.
Peter Greene gives an astonishingly convincing performance as the deeply troubled, delusory Peter Winter and whilst watching Clean, Shaven, you can almost feel and join in with the freak show which persists in invading his brain and sensibilities.
As the film progresses, we see Peter do various things in order to try and rid himself of what he believes is an invasion of his brain....at one point he cuts a small lump out of the top of his head, and later on - using a pen-knife - removes one of his own finger nails, in the belief that those parts of his body are where he imagines radio transmitters have been inserted into his body.
The music to the film is absolutely spot on, and is avant-garde in nature...like very high-brow new age or classical music, mostly consisting of muted percussive sounds.
It isn't difficult to feel some kind of sympathy for Peter because as the film unfolds, various things emerge that throw a different kind of light upon not just his intentions, but his very existence. Also, running alongside the depiction of Peter's task of finding his daughter, we see cop John McNally fighting the demons inside of his own mind as he suffers flashbacks to when the murdered little girl was found at the beginning of the film.
Despite being presented in an unusual way, for the most part Clean, Shaven isn't difficult to understand, but one thing which isn't clear to me is how one minute Peter (at the start of the film) is incarcerated in a run-down psychiatric wing, and the next moment he is free walking along the street. I don't know if the viewer is meant to interpret that he was released, or that he escaped. I've seen this film several times, and am no closer to clarity on that particular issue.
However, not all is as it on the surface seems during Clean, Shaven and I feel certain that each person who sees it will be thinking and guessing different things to one another about where the storyline is going.
Without meaning to say too much as it'd drift into the realm of spoilers, it would be easy for anybody to jump to certain conclusions about Peter, especially bearing in mind some of the photographs and newspaper cuttings he keeps looking at - he even plasters them across the side and back windows of his car, plus his wing mirrors....he seems to have a phobia of mirrors of all kinds. My own feelings are that viewers need to look under the immediate surface of what is coming across on screen, and to pay great attention to the little details....those little details giving a completely different focus to that which is at first apparent.
Overall, Clean, Shaven is a fairly quiet, laid-back sort of film without too much talking....there is some dialogue, but not a tremendous amount. The main focus is on Peter's state of mind and how he is in a constant state of terror of the world both inside and outside of his head. The schizophrenic aspect I feel is dealt with in a particularly intelligent and darkly sensitive way, firstly by giving the audience more than a glimpse of what it must feel like to suffer from this tortuous illness, and secondly how people in general (in the film those who Peter comes into contact with) have a deep misunderstanding of the condition.
Clean, Shaven isn't the easiest of films to watch, but it isn't in the slightest bit gruesome or sensationalist. It is a thoughtful, sensitive 80 or so minutes out of a desperate man's life. As to whether you warm to Peter or loathe his guts, will depend on your own perception of mental illness, but this isn't a production which anybody should expect to be entertained by or to view as a bit of escapism, because it isn't any of those things. It is a dark and sometimes tragic portrayal of mental illness combined with, to a degree, prejudice and off to the side bigotry.
I do strongly recommend Clean, Shaven to anybody who doesn't necessarily expect to be entertained by a good film, and who could get inside the story's grey areas....ultimately to be moved, as this has - albeit gentle and laid-back - one of the very best endings I've ever seen.....not soppy, not heart-rending, not sugary....just very realistic and down to earth, yet totally unexpected.
At the time of writing, US import DVDs can be purchased on Amazon as follows:-
New: currently only two available @ £15.73 and £15.64
Used: from £13.99 to £40.00
A delivery charge of £1.26 should be added to the above figures.
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