|Proletarian banality in Latvia.|
Dir. Aik Karapetian
Starring: Maxim Lazarev, Aris Rozentals, Anta Aizupe
Review By Greg Klymkiw
This might be one of the most vile movies I've seen in quite awhile. I suspect most audiences will find it either reprehensible or boring (or both), but ultimately, I think it signals the arrival of an especially gifted filmmaker. Aik Karapetian is Armenian and the movie is a co-production between Latvia and Estonia. Given that this is a brutal, nasty-humoured psychological horror film, its peculiar ethnographical pedigree seems to almost guarantee that we're going to see something that's as shocking as it's off the well-worn path.
While it shares similarities to Roman Polanksi's The Tenant and Repulsion. it just as easily conjures up comparison points to John McNaughton's Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, David Fincher's Se7en and Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs (with generous dollops of Lars von Trier and Michael Haneke). Finally though, The Man in the Orange Jacket is all its own movie - a truly sickening and starkly original piece of work. After seeing it, nobody will accuse it of being in the domain of been-there-done-that.
When a whole whack of dock workers are laid-off, one of them decides he's had enough of his lot in life as a labourer within the "new" capitalism of Eastern Europe. He wants a taste of what the 1% have and nothing's going to stop him from getting it. He targets the scumbag corporate CEO (Aris Rozentals) who's responsible for his predicament of unemployment, shows up at the richie-rich's sprawling, isolated country mansion, murders the CEO and his gorgeous young wife (Anta Azupe), tosses their bodies into the basement and proceeds to live a life of leisure in the upscale, though oddly antiseptic abode. There's a bit of perverse fun to be had watching our boy lounging about in expensive clothing, eating gourmet meals, drinking fine wine, sitting in different comfy chairs and "admiring" the works of art on the walls, but it's clear that what he desires is not attainable since he's essentially a proletarian numbskull - albeit of the psychopathic variety. Curiously, what little we find out about the CEO suggests that in his own way, he's as hollow a shell as our working class hero. As for our rich man wanna-be, Karapetian makes no attempt to add any more shading that what little we see.
Thankfully the movie doesn't provide us any excuses or reasons for the psycho's behaviour, beyond the banal desire to have what can never truly be his. Some, I suspect, might dump on this as a major flaw, but any attempts to fill in the blanks would simply have been disingenuous. This is, ultimately, the story of one big fat nothing and as such, it's a damn effective one. Replete with astonishing visual flourishes and a creepy-crawly methodical pace of the most unbearably compelling kind, The Man in the Orange Jacket is as sterling a sophomore effort as we're likely to experience this year.
At a certain point, early on, it's quite obvious that we're not going to get even a smidgen of empathy in this character. As his isolated indulgence progresses, he becomes increasingly bored and we're then privy to a series of harrowing incidents which suggest the house itself is haunted or that he's even more off his rocker than we suspected. When he summons two gorgeous twin escorts to "his" home, he's such an empty vessel that the most "creative" sexual shenanigans he can muster is to piss into the swimming pool and force the hookers to stay in the water.
We should all be so lucky.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: *** 3-Stars
The Man in the Orange Jacket enjoyed its International Premiere at the 2014 edition of the FantAsia International Film Festival in Montreal and has been selected to unspool at the prestigious Fantastic Fest at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin, Texas.