The Garden of Earthly Delights (2004)
Director Lech Majewski has his followers on the international art house circuit but, needless to say, finds few eyeballs in North America. With this film (based on his novel Metaphysics) being done in English, one must conclude he was seeking a larger audience than usual for his work.
If you ever wanted to know the history, analytic details and stature of the work of painter Hireonymous Bosch, the film The Garden of Earthly Delights is the right place to land. If you wanted to regard an erotic and sensual tale of two lovers graphically intertwined in body and spirit, this movie may leave you more satisfied at some times than at others. And if you were looking for an artistically expressive cinematic experience with a cohesive vision, you'll either think Majewski has delivered or coped out. You know, one person's music is...ya-da, ya-da...
Majeweski shot the movie in a not particularly high-end looking video format, with Chris' cruder footage telling much of the onscreen story for the viewer and some even grainier monitor replays filling in the gaps - sort of a progressively degrading "film-within a film-within another film" approach.
On the whole, there are almost equal moments of insight and pretension, artistry and artifice, absorption and distance, interest and boredom. As an erotic adventure there's no denying that both Spiteri and Nightingale are a couple of people who look pretty damned good with their clothes off - which for a while happens every 5 minutes or so - but the presentation of their intertwines is often done in a clumsy and cold manner. And while Spiteri delivers a fairly robust performance, her male counterpoint simply does not have enough range to deliver an effective enough characterization.
This is not to say that The Garden of Earthly Delights is a time waster. It just feels too much like art via your local dollar store - this "garden" seems like those cheap plastic flowers and plants you see in aisle 5 that may be kind of realistic looking and even semi-attractive - but they are, after all, imitations of the real deal. That's what this film comes across as. Go ahead and check it out...just don't say you were not warned.
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