[Editor's Note: This is the latest entry in House contributor Kevin B. Lee's Shooting Down Pictures, a record of his ongoing quest to see every title on the list of the 1000 Greatest Films compiled by They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?] Lindsay Anderson and Malcolm McDowell's follow-up to the infamous If... (TSPDT #567) stars McDowell as a fresh-faced young Candidean stumbling through a picaresque that sprawlingly catalogs the abuses and absurdities of all corners of 70s British society: provincial philistines staging miscegenation sex shows; scientists grafting pig parts to human guinea pigs; and a military industrial alliance enabling genocide overseas. Indeed, the only institution that seems to be depicted favorably is the prison where McDowell is indoctrinated into Marxist utopianism, only to be mauled upon his release by the homeless people he seeks to serve. Heavy on incident and yet somehow vague in insight, David Sherwin's screenplay seems to depend heavily on the audience taking its wry depictions of widespread dystopia at face value to attain an aura of verity. For his part Anderson maintains a snarkily buoyant tone to the proceedings, aided by Alan Price's running commentary song score and various metacinematic gestures to keep things teasingly playful, such as casting actors in multiple roles and having Price and his band appear midway. The finale involves a casting session with McDowell's character for the very film in which he just starred, climaxing into a New Agey epiphany followed by a dance-a-long precursor to the ending of David Lynch's Inland Empire. The performances by the multi-tasking ensemble are uniformly convincing in conveying a societal landscape of alluring menace; watching them it's easy to be caught up in the skill by which they inhabit and skewer their roles, though the lingering feeling of cynicism following the proceedings may wear differently on a given viewer.
_____________________________________ To read the rest of the article at Shooting Down Pictures, click here.