Puffball Nicholas Roeg

Puffball Nicholas Roeg

I can’t for the life of me figure out what this UK/Irish/Canadian co-production is driving at. The first film in 11 years by fallen idol Nicolas Roeg, it’s a bizarre mishmash of attractive people, weird acting out, supernatural shenanigans and metaphorical sleight of hand that could mean so much if it wasn’t so completely impenetrable.

There’s a sexy couple (Kelly Reilly and Oscar Pearce) renovating a country house when they’re not engaging in ridiculous lovemaking, resulting in not one but two intrauterine cum shots for reasons too gratuitous to enumerate here. There are witches, or some such mystical women (represented by Miranda Richardson and Rita Tushingham), who are strangely interested in the unborn child. It gets kind of fuzzy after that but there’s a raft of wholly unbelievable acting delivered with great gusto, a lot of gleefully pretentious symbolism surrounding sex and a camera style that never falters even as the plot blows your head clean off.

Donald Sutherland shows up for a minute as something or other (as a possible favour to his Don’t Look Now director) but his gravitas is all for naught — this is one silly movie, make no bones about it. Depending on your mood and your level of inebriation, this could either be a glorious camp extravaganza or just about the worst movie you’ve ever seen but either way, you’ve got to give Roeg credit for going so far out on a limb, and so far off the deep end.

Though one gets the impression that there’s a feminist subtext in the script (which is based on a Fay Weldon novel), the director is completely oblivious and simply lets his freak flag fly. Tragic that his comeback isn’t even close to being a genuinely good movie, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t an entirely watchable piece of embarrassment. (TVA)