Thursday 18 September 2014

"Salomé" (The Guardian 19/09/14)

Salomé ***
Dir: Al Pacino. With: Al Pacino, Jessica Chastain, Kevin Anderson. 81 mins. Cert: 15. 

This Sunday cinemagoers can catch a double-bill that emerges from Al Pacino’s late-blooming obsession with Wilde’s tale of transgressive sexuality. The main feature records the play’s 2006 L.A. staging: hardly standard live-event fare, it’s closer to Mike Figgis or Michael Almereyda’s experiments in giving perilously archaic texts a scholarly redesign, shot by Miss Julie’s Benoît Delhomme in dynamic close-ups that capture the players thinking their way through Wilde’s tricky, arguably misogynist scenario. A pre-stardom Jessica Chastain makes Salomé a tragically self-assured headhunter, punished for knowing exactly what she wants; she even aces her potentially ridiculous big dance, which – as modern mores dictate – involves far fewer than seven veils and moves apparently inspired by Shakira. Against her, Pacino’s vulgar, ethnically indeterminate Herod furnishes this banquet with easily digested ham: if he can’t quite bring all of Wilde’s often florid imagery into focus, he’s given it a good shout – literally so, in places. 

Salomé screens with Wilde Salomé, and a Pacino-Stephen Fry Q&A, in selected cinemas this Sunday.

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