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The third feature (1992) of Guy Maddin, whose poker-faced period extravaganzas suggest early, scratchy talkies, is his first in color, which means subdued pastels in some spots and lush tinting of black-and-white footage in others. Set in a remote Alpine village where everyone speaks in whispers to avoid setting off avalanches and everyday repression breeds deranged incestuous lust, the outrageous story seems characteristic of Maddin in its dual nature: in part a hilarious satire about Canadian timidity, it also comes across periodically as a formalist gem about nothing at all. The ably somnambulistic cast includes Australian director Paul Cox and Canadian character actor Jackie Burroughs, along with Sarah Neville, Brent Neale, and Victor Cowie in prominent parts; film academic George Toles (who also worked on Archangel) assisted Maddin on the script. 100 min.

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