6 October 2012

Raindance 2012:Despite The Gods Review

Jennifer Lynch’s directorial debut, Boxing Helena, a complete and utter critical failure, earned Lynch a Golden Raspberry award for “worst director of the year”, and was described by Time Out as “grotesquely misconceived”. Despite some success with 2008 follow-up, Surveillance, it’s apparent that initial critical drubbing still weighs heavy on the director’s mind.

Ostensibly a behind-the-scenes documentary about Lynch’s troubles directing the Bollywood horror movie Hisss, originally entitled Nagin; we find Lynch in India, about to embark on the most complicated and demanding shoot of her life, well aware that another botched movie could spell the end of her career as a director.

In fact Penny Vozniak’s documentary is simultaneously much less and much, much more than a typical making-of doc. Despite The Gods aims its sights squarely at Lynch herself, detailing her personal ordeal juggling the multiple demands of playing filmmaker, mother and stranger in a foreign land. As with all documentaries in this vein, it becomes doubly interesting should the wheels begin to fall off; and fall off they do.
As the shoot goes over-time and over-budget, Lynch’s relationship with producer Govind Menon becomes fractured; a superstitious crew insist on blessing the set before every take; and the whole production is hampered by the very worst weather the country has to offer.

Pozniak keeps her camera firmly on Lynch, filtering the story of the faltering production through the director herself. The end result is a film which feels profoundly personal in its telling of a complex and wide ranging series of events. It’s interesting to be given such an intimate look at the everyday stresses and strains placed on a director, desperately attempting to juggle numerous balls. With the ever-present spectre of Boxing Helena hanging over Lynch’s head, it’s a treat to see her unwind as a character over the course of the documentary. Beginning the film as the anxious and uptight “worst director of the year”, she thaws considerably, ending the journey as an infinitely more relaxed person, mother, friend and lover.

The fact that Hisss bombed in its native India, and that Lynch’s involvement continued to be constrained to the bitter end, adds another layer of intrigue to the whole affair.

An intimate look at a cluttered and chaotic subject.

Chris Banks (@Chris_in_2D)


Rating: NC 15
Directed By: Penny Vozniak
Cast:Jennifer Chambers Lynch, Sydney Lynch, Govind Menon, Mallika Sherawat

'Despite the Gods' Theatrical Trailer from House of Gary on Vimeo.

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