Narrative, 90 min
Directed by Tao Ruspoli
Hardacre: Friday, August 1, 9pm
It’s a pleasure to stand on a cliff, a Roman poet once observed, and watch a ship wreck. Leo, the central character in Tao Ruspoli’s Fix, a heroin addict who by law must either go to rehab or jail, says that his life is like the car wreck you slow down to savor. His brother, who is delaying making a documentary with his girlfriend to get Leo to rehab, is constantly shooting everyone with his video camera. He’s trying to stand on the cliff and not get involved with the wreck…but it is his brother. His girlfriend Bella starts out irritated that she has to interrupt her documentary on the social problems of L.A. to help her boyfriend’s drug-addicted brother but, like anyone who watches the movie, she quickly becomes mesmerized by Leo, played brilliantly by Shawn Andrews.
There are ironies in the predicament: Leo is addicted to shooting heroin, his brother can’t stop shooting film; the main strategy for keeping Leo out of jail and raising the funds necessary to get him into rehabilitation is to sell drugs; Bella is making a movie about the “systemic” problems behind drug addiction, and she flourishes in the end as a pot dealer. But these ironies are so painful and obvious nobody really frets over them: they’re the water the characters swim in.
The jumpy editing, I suppose, is a symptom of the ironies; nothing can be lingered on too long—the documentary is always being postponed for what immediately presents itself. But the soul of the movie—and it’s good to see a movie with a soul—is the moments that occasionally flicker before us and light the whole thing up: like the couple heartbreaking shots of the characters letting loose on the beach, set to a nocturne of Chopin.
One of the crucial modes of filmmaking, which has now fallen completely to independent filmmakers, is to think into things with images—not necessarily to be the product of having grappled with reality (like a good play) but to be the very process of grappling with reality. Fix takes up that task. It’s the kind of breathless, urgent filmmaking that’s exciting and pleasurable: even its flaws feel necessary to the whole. It’s plenty cool in its subject and camerawork, but it offers something more to those who look.