SHORT REVIEWS (34): CHAINED FOR LIFE
Chained for Life is nothing but a humorous deconstruction of the notion of beauty in its association to cinema and, specifically, to actors as its guardians. Schimberg’s film opens with a quotation where Pauline Kael talks about the legitimacy of the beauty of the actors and, from then on, what comes into play is the complete destitution of authority in that quotation celebrating inconsequentiality. Chained for Life begins with the story of a film’s shooting where some sort of reincarnation of the “Elephant Man” stars for the first time in his life in a film with a renowned European actress in the main role. Actually, Cained for Life mixes scenes from that under-construction film with moments of its preparation and various periods of rest during its filming, together with a few dreams and a third alternative film which the extras (just as “ontologically” anomalous, as if they al were the grandsons of the Freaks’ cast) together with the deformed protagonist begin to shoot during their periods of nightly rest. The mise en abyme is a programmatic one, as well as the magnificent chromatic conception and the use of wide shots and purposeful closeups of the characters’ faces, which are justified because the direct confrontation with the faces of those “others” in cinema is indispensable if we are to question the codification of beauty that films usually assert through their stars. The same thing happens with the “narrative cross-dissolves,” or the forms in which each of the stories are associated—the changing diegesis never strays in its effort to erode the dominant concept of beauty.
Roger Koza / Copyleft 2020
Chained for Life, USA, 2018.
Written and Directed by Aaron Schimberg.