Phantom Love | Chicago Reader

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Unfolding with the awful clarity of a nightmare, this 2007 drama delves into the troubled psyche of a remote Russian beauty (Marina Shoif) who spends her days dully working a roulette table in LA's Koreatown and her nights lying beneath a sweating, mechanically pumping lover. Everywhere she looks are images of male violence (cops brutalizing a kid on the street, U.S. forces bombing Fallujah on TV), and every time she comes home, a serpent curls menacingly in the hallway of her hotel. Director Nina Menkes (The Bloody Child, Magdalena Viraga) supplies a rudimentary plot—traumatic memories of the woman's abusive father, complications involving her psychotic sister—but the film's real pull is its dreamlike sense of perpetual strangeness, created largely by the crisp black-and-white photography. 87 min.

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