===Story=== There are times when Raul Ruiz's maddening and mesmerizing film resembles a direct-to-video erotic thriller in which rampant clichés collide in scenes surreal in their straight-faced silliness. And there are moments when the fractured narrative and stylistic shards create a sophisticated study in alienation and disconnection. These elements often coexist in the same scenes. Ruiz is a master craftsman whose cinematic intelligence is put to the process of storytelling as much as to the telling of stories. Here he has two tales that intertwine through dreams and fantasies, bouncing off of and commenting on one another. Anne Parillaud stars as a lethal, world-weary assassin in the first and as a skittish, wide-eyed newlywed in the other. When one falls asleep the other wakes up, as if it were all a dream, but we're never sure which one (if either) is real. When the assassin takes a job that targets her lover (William Baldwin) and the newlywed suspects her husband (Baldwin again) of a plot against her life, it becomes clear that their relationship is far more than a schizophrenic split. Pinging against the narrative sophistication and deliriously rich images are creaky B-movie twists and hoary performances by Baldwin and femme fatale Lisanne Falk. The result is a film that defies its own conventions, like a parody of bad thrillers executed with the assured brilliance of a cinematic genius. It may not always work, but it never fails to astonish. ''--Sean Axmaker''
|Anne Parillaud||Jessie Markham|