25 August 2013

Greg Araki's Nowhere (1997) DVD Review

Rating: 18
DVD Release Date: 26th August 2013 (UK)
Buy: Nowhere [DVD]

When I watched the daring and beautiful Mysterious Skin some five years ago, Gregg Araki topped my list of filmmakers to further explore. At that time, though, the rest of his oeuvre was not available on DVD in the UK so I put my interest on the back burner. In the years since, my interest in Araki’s films had dramatically subsided having heard and read on numerous occasions that his other films were, quite frankly, not worth bothering with. However, having recently developed an interest in the New Queer Cinema movement (and after recently watching The Living End, his seminal, yet flawed, contribution to that movement) my interest in Araki’s films was rekindled. So, when the opportunity arose to review Second Sight’s release of Nowhere, I jumped at the chance.

With a stellar cast of, what were at the time, up and coming stars including James Duval, Chiara Mastroianni, Christina Applegate, Ryan Phillippe, Heather Graham, Scott Caan, Mena Suvari, Shannen Doherty, Rose McGowan, and Jordan Ladd, Nowhere is the final instalment in Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy following Totally F***ed Up and The Doom Generation (fortunately, as I have seen neither, the films only share a common theme).

Envisioning a nihilistic future world, the film offers up a surreal, apocalyptical vision of Los Angeles that is both hedonistic and decadent. At the centre of the film is the existential Dark Smith (Duval) who is tormented by his girlfriend’s (Rachel True) polygamous nature. Over the course of a day, we follow Dark and an array of his eccentric friends as they confront issues ranging from drug addiction and eating disorders through to alien abduction. Hell, by the end of the film we witness Dark’s not-gay, gay new soul mate’s absurd transformation into a cockroach like alien.

As well as the absurdities surrounding alien abduction, Araki also likes to throw in some over the top violence and a scene in which one of the characters is raped by a Baywatch star. All the over the top irreverence goes nowhere, rather ironic given the film’s title, and the film lacks any of the political punch that was served up in The Living End. It would seem that the reservations held by those who have warned me about Araki are true. What the film does have going for it, though, is a visual style that owes much to Godard and a punk aesthetic reminiscent of Derek Jarman’s Jubilee.


Shane James

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