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Tribeca: "In Fabric"

Jason Adams with another review from the Tribeca Film Festival.

There was a Twitter query going around last week asking in the wake of the new Avengers film what pop culture events we felt personally blessed to have lived through in our lives. Apparently some people feel this way about the Marvel movies, which, well, great for them. It's nice to be happy. Personally I like more lesbian sadomasochism and insect fetishism in my entertainment, so my answer to said query falls more in line with how I think we're live-time experiencing the birth of a genre genius with the writer-director Peter Strickland, who's gone three for three with Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke of Burgundy, and now In Fabric, his latest slow-motion psych-out beamed in from an alternate dimension.

In Fabric first introduces us to Sheila (a marvelously world-weary Marianne Jean-Baptiste), who swims through her bank job and a string of telephone-based blank dates with all the ease of any Strickland character, which is to say with little to no ease at all...

His characters always know something is wrong -- namely that they're in a Peter Strickland movie, where the rules of living scuttle under heavy drapery whenever you shine a light in their direction. Oh what to do? Sigh, heavily, and move on even slower.

Sheila wants to look for good for one of her dates, and thankfully there's always a sale at the local high-end boutique so she heads on over. There's always a sale on like there's always a plague placed upon an antique doll or an heirloom mushroom basket -- borrowing a vibe from the cursed commercials of Halloween III: Season of the Witch this shop caters strictly to the brain-damaged. Meaning you walk in one way and you walk out most definitely brain-damaged. One dress, in the parlance of Margaret White it would be red, catches Sheila's eye, and murder's all she wrote.

One doesn't want to ruin the surprises of In Fabric, it's a true twister beyond easy comprehension, but can one really ruin the surprises of a movie about a maniacal slice of silkiness that stalks down victim after victim while a coven of hairless shop-girls cavorts with their gynecologically-correct store mannequins during off-hours? I would argue that no, no one can't ruin the surprises of such a thing. If such a thing were to exist. Which it now does. Peter Strickland, bless his black heart and his blacker magic eyes, has conjured one up for us to cherish. And cherish it I shall, life long. Now make more, please.

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Reader Comments (3)

Thanks for this report, Jason.

I was looking forward to seeing this film after becoming a Strickland fan since Katalin Varga which I only saw a few years ago. Since then I watched Duke of Burgundy and Berberian Sound Studio.

The early reviews I read of In Fabric said that the first half was more cohesively structured than the second one. But regardlessn it will be refreshing to see the wonderful Marianne Jean-Baptiste onscreen again after her TV roles and occasional supporting turns in films. I can't wait to see Fatma Mohamed in this as well -- so wonderful in the previous Strickland films. I also read negative reviews that reveal more about the reviewers' new and possibly uninitiated encounters with the worlds that Strickland create in his films. I agree that the characters in his films are always going to be under extreme duress, to put it mildly. But in some weird, cathartic and bizarre twist, his cinematic universe is always compelling cinema.

I hope to be able to see In Fabric in the big screen someday soon. I wish I don't have to travel much and miss tiny movies like these playing in niche moviehouses in big cities. They had to be seen in a darkened theatre, no?

May 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

I hope Marianne has made enough money with all those generic tv-shows she's been doing so she can focus on this type of movie from now on.

May 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

@Peggy Sue

Agree 100%. I think the last meaty role she gave was in the Prime series headlined by Julia Roberts called Homecoming. For movies, I think her last memorable was Spy Game in 2001. I wish Mike Leigh will cast her again in his domestic dramas.

May 9, 2019 | Unregistered CommenterOwl

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