Glasgow Film Festival Review: ‘88’

88 Review

By Jimmy Owens

Strap in for this confusing revenge flick about a stripper who goes on a homicidal rampage of vengeance when her boyfriend is murdered in front of her sending her into a fugue state, á la Walter White. There was a caveat before the film that had to explain what a fugue state was and I feel the need to do the same. When someone experiences a traumatic event it can make that person forget who they are, their psyche forces them to choose a personality that can best deal with the trauma. However, when they return to their ‘normal state’ they have no memory of their actions. Luckily for us film-goers she adopts the characteristics of a gun-toting, psycho bad ass that seeks to track down those responsible in a Memento, non-linear style until only the big boss remains.
The film stars Katherine Isabelle as mousey, ‘girl next door’ type, Gwen and her alter ego Flamingo, a sultry assassin hunting her bf’s killers. The film is given a whiff of credibility with seasoned pros such as Christopher Lloyd who plays a gang boss with psychotic tendencies (like every movie gang boss) and Total Recall bad guy, Mike Ironside, who portrays a small town cop caught up in Flamingo’s lust for revenge as he chases down the femme fatal.  It’s like Pulp Fiction meets Kill Bill but without the sharp dialogue and stunning soundtrack. The story jumps from one timeline to the other as we see flashbacks of Gwen’s happy life, her murderous Flamingo side, and then a confused Gwen who doesn’t know why the cops are after her.
The writers have tried to give us a strong female lead, however, they have fallen for the trap of turning her from a weak willed, ineffectual and hysterical women, into a crazy, psycho bitch from hell – going from one end of the patronising spectrum to the other and back in one fluid motion. It could be interpreted as an analogy for ‘that time of the month’ because once she snaps out of her irrational craziness; she immediately forgets that she had acted in such a destructive manner.
I left the GFT thinking that the cleverness of the film’s set-up was let down badly by its ending. The surprise twist was hinted at throughout the film, which made it less surprising than the ending of Titanic. The writers seemed compelled to hold the audience’s hand far too much, particularly when jumping from one timeline to the other. The viewer would get a little re-cap of the previous scene so that they could follow the story, but this meant that nothing was left to the imagination and the ending was so obvious that I heard several people in room say how it was going to end ten minutes before the big reveal.

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