1991-2000CrimeDramaRaoul RuizUSA

Raoul Ruiz – Shattered Image (1998)

Written adroitly by Duane Pool, “Shattered Image” has one of those stories about which it is all but impossible to say anything with any degree of certainty. It does seem clear that Parillaud’s Jessie and Baldwin’s Brian are an exceptionally attractive Seattle couple honeymooning at a posh Jamaican resort and that Jessie is deeply disturbed. She apparently has endured a rape and its trauma has been compounded by the death of her wealthy father. She has vivid dreams in which she sees herself as an ultra-cool hired assassin–and her latest assignment is to knock off none other than Brian or a man who is his twin. As for Brian, is he the solicitous husband he seems to be? Or is it the cold-blooded assassin who is real, and Jessie but a figment of her dreams?

Ruiz piles on such questions to such dizzying heights that his picture begins to boggle the mind, like looking too long at a labyrinthine M.C. Escher drawing. It’s best to let the film simply wash over you because trying to sort everything out invites a certain tedium. However, it’s worth going along with Ruiz because his payoff is so stunning that you realize that as usual he’s carefully building toward it every step of the way. Ruiz verges on pure cinema, relying on the camera rather than dialogue to reveal character, tell the story and express his preoccupation with the duality of human nature.

“Shattered Image” is the kind of stylish guessing game in which actors sometimes don’t get the credit they deserve in helping make it work. Parillaud, who can always seem a darkly beautiful enigma, deftly moves between the unstable Jessie and the vision of herself in her dreams, a lethal dame as cold-blooded as the actress’ memorable “La Femme Nikita.” Baldwin similarly changes personalities with equal effortlessness. Among the supporting players is Bulle Ogier as Jessie’s chic, trusting mother.

This Seven Arts production is beautifully designed and scored, and has the glow typical of the work of its master cinematographer Robby Muller. “Shattered Image,” despite Baldwin’s presence and its suspense genre, is no mainstream movie but an art film that demands of the audience not only to make connections for itself but to do so with what it sees rather than what it hears.

1.56GB | 1h 42mn | 1016×572 | mkv



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