MY HEAD IS EXPLODING
Huh? Marc Evans, director of the fine horror film My Little Eye, must surely have been intrigued by the echoes of Don't Look Now in the script for this brain-numbingly baffling psychological thriller.
Like Nic Roeg's great film, Trauma focuses on the aftermath of an early death as it follows its bereaved hero through a series of narrative conundrums towards an enigmatic conclusion. Unlike Don't Look Now, Trauma offers us no firm ground on which to stand and survey the landscape.
The film is a mass of bluff, confusion, illusion and mystery. Many viewers will be frustrated.
Ben, played by the unhelpfully cuddly Colin Firth, is released from hospital after suffering serious injuries in the same car accident that killed his wife and, still dazed, scarred and mopey, moves into a draughty apartment building. Unsurprisingly neither the gloomy ambience of the echoing pile, formerly a hospital, nor the presence of an eccentric caretaker lifts his mood. But Mena Suvari, as gaunt and gecko-eyed as ever, is lurking about the corridors offering a little bit of good cheer.
While Ben is trying to make sense of everything, the rest of London is in mourning for a murdered pop star. Maybe the singer and Ben's wife are one and the same person. Maybe Suvari is a figment of Ben's imagination. Maybe the hero killed one of the two women. Maybe a bucket of Solpadeine will ease this pounding between my temples.
Oddly, though Trauma makes less sense than is decent for any film not directed by a Korean, it never quite becomes boring. Beautifully photographed in deeply saturated colours by John Mathieson of Gladiator fame and featuring an insidiously creepy sound design, the picture has a very secure grasp of its own murky milieu. Although much of the picture was shot on the Isle of Man, Evans does a good job of conjuring up an eerily fantastic version of contemporary London.
Trauma is indisputably the work of one of the UK's more singular directors. But those expecting neat resolutions should approach with caution.