His (Lodge Kerrigan) beat is mental illness...i think the extreme edges of it, and I'm happy to go there with him as he takes my hand as we go in to his world - John Waters on Lodge Kerrigan
I wont be structuring this one like the other "Cinema Of..." entries because Lodge Kerrigan only has 3 films (4 if you count this years' 'Rebecca H', which i don't think anyone has seen). There's only so many comparisons you can make with just three films. But nevertheless, the purpose of this director exploration is no different than any of the others I've done in that I want to create guide or a summary of a director that I'm a fan of in hopes it will turn others that aren't familiar on to his work.
Any good director that has his/her own unique style or "look" is essentially creating an alternate universe or world for the audience (that goes without saying for some people, but that may not register with others). These worlds range from digitally shot, hi-def, flashy bright lights, night club world of Michael Mann (a world I'd love to live in) or the strange surreal world of David Lynch filled with dancing midgets who talk backwards, industrial background music and scary/mysterious figures who haunt us through the coarse of the film. I've always been fascinated and amazed by the ability that some directors have to make people say; "Oh, this must be a Kubrick Film" or "This looks like a Robert Bresson film" without ever having to look at the credits to see who the director actually is.
A few days ago I watched Lodge Kerrigan's 'Clean, Shaven' & 'Claire Dolan' back-to-back, and found that my mood for the rest of the evening had changed pretty drastically. I didn't feel down or depressed or anything like that, but i definitely felt uneasy and had a difficult time thinking nice or happy thoughts. There's quite a few modern directors who paint a world that I don't want to live in like the darkly lit, sensual world of Gaspar Noe filled with back alley's, drug addicts, rapists and incest or Harmony Korine and his focus on "white trash" and the dirt filled homes of paint sniffing, cat killing , meth addicts. But there's something so realistic about Kerrigan's films and his characters that makes him stand out among his peers.
THE WORLD OF LODGE KERRIGAN: MENTAL ILLNESS, PARANOIA, AGGRESSION AND UNEASE
I have a long-standing interest in mental illness. I have friends who suffer from it. I think it's a devastating illness, not only mentally, psychologically, emotionally, but also economically. I think it isolates people tremendously, and again, I want to try and engender some empathy for people who suffer. - Lodge Kerrigan
The world of Lodge Kerrigan is full of aggressive, mentally unstable and sometimes violent characters. You never know if someone is going to snap & attack someone or break down & cry. Just the music in his films alone creates an uneasy and almost frightening feeling. For those of you who aren't familiar with Lodge Kerrigan's work, he intentionally mixes and layers various audio samples together that don't traditionally go together. In his feature debut; 'Clean, Shaven', the story of a recently released paranoid Schizophrenic looking for his daughter, the soundtrack to that film is made up of radio signals, the audio from the scared straight documentary and other various audio samples like dog barks or screams. In 'Claire Dolan', Kerrigan mixes old soul music with a haunting piano score and random saxophone samples. Although the structure to his films are pretty traditional in the world of American independent film, what he does with audio gives his films a connection to the world of experimental film.
Instead of using images for this category, I thought video clips could best convey what I'm trying to get across. Pay close attention to the background score in the 'Clean, Shaven' clip, the tense vibe in the 'Claire Dolan' scene, and note Damian Lewis' amazing acting in the clip of 'Keane'...
Paranoia is another common theme in Lodge Kerrigan's work. And this goes beyond the paranoid schizophrenic characters found in 'Clean, Shaven' and 'Keane'. Even "normal" or emotionally stable characters (like "Claire Dolan") are always on edge or under the impression that someone is out to get them. In Claire's case, she's actually right. Through out the film (about a high priced call girl trying to work off a debt), she's stalked by more than one person. In all of Lodge Kerrigans films theres always a shot of someone looking over their shoulder, behind their back, peeking around a corner or looking out for some kind of an attack...
|'Claire Dolan' (1998)|
|'Clean, Shaven' (1994)|
|Homeleand Season 2, episode 3|
THE PRESENCE OF CHILDREN:
The constant presence of children in Kerrigan's films are also a huge part of that uneasy feeling. The last thing we want to see or think about is a small innocent child in the hands of a crazy person (even if that crazy person has no intentions of harming the child). In 'Clean, Shaven' a subplot of the film involves a detective trying a solve the murder case of a young girl. Additionally, the lead characters ultimate goal in 'Clean, Shaven' is to get to his daughter. But we never know his true intentions once he gets to her. Did he plan to take her? Did he plan to kill her? We'll never truly know. Same with 'Keane', Kerrigan's last movie about another paranoid Schizophrenic trying to find his daughter who was abducted from a bus terminal. But as the story unfolds, we question whether or not our lead character even had a daughter in the first place. And the fate of Abigail Breslin's character at the end of 'Keane' is very open ended as well. Will she be abducted as well? Will she be returned to her mother? Lodge Kerrigan's world is full of seedy hotels, dirt and is just all around unclean and unsafe. No one wants to picture children in a world like that (especially parents). The image of a child walking hand in hand with a schizophrenic appears more than once in his films...
POLANSKI'S (POSSIBLE) INFLUENCE:On the commentary track for 'Clean, Shaven', Kerrigan drops Roman Polanski's name more than once, and his influence is all over films like 'Clean, Shaven' & 'Claire Dolan'.